By Jeremy Mele
“John McCain is a true American hero” is a sentiment that has exploded across mainstream news sources and the Internet this week. After he voted against the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a not insignificant portion of the media and general public have been quick to sing the senator’s praises as they rushed to proclaim that the “maverick” McCain they knew and loved had returned to them. One would think, from all of the admiration sent his way, that McCain had accomplished something superhuman. McCain, however, did not alter the course of a mighty river, nor did he leap a tall building in a single bound. He voted against 15 million people having their health insurance taken away from them.
I know the bar for excellence in governing is pretty low right now, but how is allowing people to keep what is already rightfully theirs (healthcare is a human right!) anything but simple human decency?
Now, I have seen some articles that are critical of the public’s infatuation with the man who heroically refused to not kill working people, but most of those pieces take the stance that we shouldn’t thank John McCain for voting against healthcare robbery…because we should thank Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski instead. Typifying this sentiment is a Huffington Post article whose title reads “These Two Women Senators are the Real ‘Mavericks’ of the GOP Healthcare Vote.” The article tells us that “McCain cast the unexpected vote, but Murkowski and Collins never wavered” (which is a lie, because Collins, at least, was considering voting for the skinny repeal up until the day before the vote.)
The hero worship of McCain is misplaced, and so is the credit given to Collins. It smacks of the same liberal “Yas Queen” feminism that praises a woman in power when she does anything, and it ignores all of the hundreds (if not thousands) of female activists who called, wrote to, and visited Collins’ office every week for monthsurging her not to take away their healthcare and the healthcare of their fellow human beings. Theseare the women who saved our healthcare, not the wealthy senators who didn’t want to lose the votes of their constituents. A feminism that praises the rich and ignores the contributions of working women is not much of a feminism.
Still, McCain, Murkowski, and Collins will most likely continue for the foreseeable future to be praised for their “heroism”. To act heroically, however, means taking a risk, and I’m not sure what risk there was in this scenario for an 80 year old with a terminal illness and the two senators who voted as their constituents urged them to; what, exactly, did they have to lose?
That we should thank senators for not taking away healthcare from millions seems somewhat absurd. I don’t know if the people urging others to do so truly believe that Collins and co. dodeserve our thanks or if it’s only because they do not want to risk the senators’ ire by seeming “ungrateful.” If it’s the latter, there is something very chilling about the whole scenario; it is tantamount to begging our leaders not to capriciously sentence us to death…in a democracy. Still, if it must be said, I will say it: thank you Senators McCain, Murkowski, and Collins for not killing us.
Jeremy Mele is the Vice Chair of the Southern Maine DSA. You can find him on twitter at @JeremyMMele.
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