McCain Smacks Down Half-Baked Nationalism and Reminds Us Why We Need American Leadership

On Monday evening, Senator John McCain received the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal. After receiving his honor, Senator McCain went into why the world needs strong American leadership and not as he called it, half-baked, spurious nationalism.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” he said.

The long American servant and war hero went on.

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to do so.”

Many times, John McCain has not been as conservative as I wished. But on this occasion, I agree with everything he said. The Bannon nationalism wing is crap. In a time when we desperately need grown-up leadership, Senator McCain reflected that ideal last night. It is easy to tear down, it is a lot harder to actually help build something and move the ball forward.

The world needs strong American leadership. It was America that freed a continent, it was American leadership in President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker, and many others that ended the Cold War without ever firing a shot. It was Americans that walked on the Moon, and it is America that continues to lead the world in innovation and science. And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Europe, it is America that the world looks to for help.

As McCain said, “and I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable. May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place.”

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Clayton Felts

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