TO: The American People
FROM: John McCain
DATE: Nov. 5, 2020
SUBJECT: My hope for your wondrous land
My fellow Americans. WTF?
What is going on down there?
Yes, we have cable up here in heaven and, sheesh, that election. It looks like hell.
I keep hearing that the situation in Arizona — my old pal Joe Biden giving old Bone Spurs a run for his money — is “John McCain’s revenge” and that’s why I’m contacting you today. I have some thoughts on that.
First, a little background. I’m currently living in the Arizona Desert Wing of the heaven compound, where it’s always like Phoenix in February. Sunny but not too hot, constantly blooming cactuses, outdoor patio dining year-round. Some old political buddies join me for lunch every Friday and we talk about what’s gone wrong down there on the mortal ground we once trod as proud Republicans.
How did our beloved party come to this? How did our country come to this? After half a margarita, we laugh. After a whole one, we weep.
Also, before I get to my main point, I may as well say what some of you are thinking: I was no saint. And some of the liberals who now praise me hated me — until I was dead. Now they turn me into whatever symbol they need in order to advance their agenda. I’m not keen on that, but hey, it’s politics. There are no saints in politics, and if only saints got to heaven, this place would be a true desert.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to be a saint to be a patriot. You just have to be decent. Look for the basic decency in others. Don’t be a bigot. Be willing to share, at least sometimes. Willing to sacrifice, at least a little. Work for the larger good. Recognize that if you spread hate against the oppressed, you don’t love our country.
There’s only one candidate in this year’s presidential election who meets those criteria. Which is why my wife and my daughter endorsed my old friend Joe Biden.
I’m not just saying this now that I’m up here where it’s easy to love your opponent. Not to toot my own horn, but I’d like to remind you of a few things I said before I slipped that mortal coil.
There was the speech in 2017 when I received the Liberty Medal of Freedomand said this about my buddy Biden: “We didn’t always agree on the issues. We often argued — sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other’s patriotism and the sincerity of each other’s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work and to cooperate in finding solutions to our country’s problems. We believed in our country and in our country’s indispensability to international peace and stability and to the progress of humanity.”
There was the time I told Chuck Todd on NBC that I hate the press but then I added: “If you want to preserve — I’m very serious now — if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
And there was the concession speech I gave when I lost to Barack Obama. Man, that hurt. I really wanted to be president. I thought I’d earned it. But I lost fair and square. And I knew what I had to do for the good of the country.
In case you don’t remember, here’s how I began my speech:
“My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama — to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”
Strange to think that was a dozen years ago. Feels more like a lifetime. I still get a little choked up thinking about it.
This election of 2020 is different. There aren’t two good men running against each other. But I take consolation in knowing that one of them is a good man, and he’s my old friend. And if I get any credit for helping him — helping the country — it is an honor.
You can call it McCain’s revenge. Or you can call it progress.
Good luck, my fellow Americans.
For the record, there is no Mar-a-Lago wing in heaven.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mary Schmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
©2020 Chicago Tribune