1. Update

John McCain – An Independent Voice

By Jim Cason, August 28, 2018


Standing up against torture shouldn’t be a cause for celebration; it should be a baseline. But in the post-9/11 United States, John McCain’s moral clarity that torture is wrong, always, was critical to creating a broader public conversation and consensus.

Standing up against torture shouldn’t be a cause for celebration; it should be a baseline. But in the post-9/11 United States, John McCain’s moral clarity that torture is wrong, always, was critical to creating a broader public conversation and consensus.

While I didn’t always agree with Senator McCain, I appreciated his willingness to act on what he believed was right, to vote independently from his party when his conscience dictated it, and to seek out ways to work in a bipartisan manner. His death this weekend leaves a big hole in the Senate, and we’ll be looking to work with others who may step in to fill that space.

Here are some of what I’ll remember as we go forward:

  • John McCain pressing for the public release of a searing report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that detailed the post-9/11 waterboarding and other torture of individuals in the custody of the United States.
  • The Senator’s decision last year to provide one of three critical Republican votes to defeat a Congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Senator’s defense of Dreamers and the rights of immigrants against a rising chorus of ugly statements and policies from several administrations.
  • Sen. John McCain’s work with then-Senator Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform.
  • The Senator’s long history of supporting bipartisan climate change legislation in the Senate, including his 2003 “McCain-Lieberman” economy-wide cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And more recently his key vote against using the Congressional Review Act to repeal Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gases.

There are no sitting U.S. Senators, I would guess, who agree with FCNL on every policy proposal that we put forward. Certainly, John McCain’s advocacy for growing military spending and military interventions around the world were not in line with our policies. But we at FCNL don’t look for senators who line up with us on every issue. Rather, we look for senators we can work with on areas where we agree, and with whom we can respectfully disagree on other issues.

We will miss Senator John McCain. The country needs more independent-minded leaders like him.

Jim Cason

  • Associate Executive Secretary for Strategic Advocacy

Jim Cason is responsible for directing the full range of FCNL’s strategic advocacy work. In this capacity, he works with program staff to develop long term change strategies that accomplish our particular legislative goals.