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From American Hero to American Zero

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

John McCain was once a symbol of what’s right with America, persevering through years of torture and torment while imprisoned in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. But decades later within the far cozier confines of the U.S Senate, he has become a symbol of why many Americans in public opinion polls believe our best days are behind us.


McCain was imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton because he wore a uniform that stood for truth, justice, and the American way. Values that represent what we often refer to as “American Exceptionalism.” Each of those values is anathema to every strain of statism, including the kind McCain was fighting against in Vietnam. However, these days McCain is advancing a set of beliefs that aligns much closer with his former Vietcong captors than the Founding Fathers.

Here is a snapshot chronology of McCain’s record since 2004:

  • In 2004 McCain spearheaded opposition to an amendment that would’ve protected marriage and religious liberty via the U.S. Constitution, calling such efforts “un-Republican” and “unnecessary.” McCain said at the time the loss of marriage is a problem, “most states do not believe confronts them.”
  • In 2005 McCain worked against efforts to force votes on President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees that were being stymied by Democrat filibusters.
  • In 2007 and 2013 McCain twice worked with notoriously anti-Constitutional leftists (Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer) to pass scamnesty legislation that undermines the rule of law, drives down wages and opportunities for American workers, burdens taxpayers with trillions of dollars in new welfare state recipients, threatens cultural cohesion and assimilation, and will also result in a mass statist Democrat voter drive.
  • McCain suspended his 2008 presidential campaign to help pass what I believe is one of the most criminal pieces of legislation in American history—TARP. He also voted for several other pork-riddled “stimulus” programs while claiming to be a budget deficit hawk.
  • Following the 2012 re-election of President Obama, McCain told Fox News that Republicans should stop fighting on child killing, but simply state their position on the sanctity of human life and then “leave the issue alone.”
  • In December of 2012, McCain stripped a key provision from the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the federal government to obey the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, thus providing American citizens due process of law before being detained.
  • Earlier this year McCain called the fiscal cliff deal that resulted in the largest tax increase in 20 years “disgraceful” but voted for it anyway at approximately 1:30 a.m. eastern time.
  • This year McCain backed U.S. taxpayers sending foreign aid to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and opposed the rebellion that removed this terrorist-friendly regime from power. McCain also backed American military intervention in Syria that would’ve assisted Jihadist rebels there. McCain even traveled to Syria over Memorial Day, and may have even ended up doing a photo op with Jihadist kidnappers while he was there.

If “by their fruit” you will know them, there’s hardly a principle of American Exceptionalism that McCain hasn’t betrayed in the past eight years. Taxes, spending, rule of law, illegal immigration, marriage, life, Second Amendment, foreign policy—you name it and it’s likely that McCain has betrayed it.

McCain has often touted himself as a “maverick” and a man of principle. If indeed he is a man of principle it’s all the wrong ones. It’s not just that he’s wrong, but he’s dangerously wrong. McCain has advocated tax-and-spend policies that would severely cripple families. McCain has advocated acquiescence on the killing of 4,000 innocent children per day. McCain has advocated against the rule to the detriment of American citizens (NDAA) but for illegal aliens (scamnesty). McCain opposed protecting the natural human family, and thus also opposed protecting religious liberty that is threatened by redefining marriage. McCain has advocated a foreign policy that to put it bluntly has accomplished little other than making it easier to persecute Christians in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and now Syria.

Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute has a saying: “personnel is policy.” Look at who McCain has surrounded himself with. One of his former top advisers helped cut anti-Second Amendment television ads this year, and his 2008 national campaign manager is now working with the ACLU to undermine marriage protection amendments passed by voters in 31 states (basically voter disenfranchisement).


To sum up, McCain has actively opposed the ideals that make our enemies hate us for all the right reasons – faith, family, and freedom. And he did so in many cases while running for president. Most politicians master the art of pandering as they gear up to advance their ambitions, but not McCain. It’s almost like he has such disdain for American Exceptionalism he prides himself on opposing it, and panders to the progressive dolts in our liberal media instead.

Standing for all the wrong things these past few years essentially nullified any purpose to his persevering through the Hanoi Hilton. Why suffer through torture if you were just going to oppose the ideals that put you there in the first place? I suffered through physical and emotional abuse growing up. But there would’ve been no meaning to persevering through that suffering if I would’ve turned around and abused my own children as well.

If you truly want to grasp just what kind of shape our culture is in, consider this—McCain was selected as the standard-bearer for the opposition to Barack Obama in 2008. 

I’ll give McCain credit for at least one thing. Once and for all he’s debunked the myth that a bad Republican is still better than a good Democrat. McCain’s legacy testifies the battle really isn’t Republican vs. Democrat but Liberty vs. Tyranny, and it’s really not Right vs. Left but Right vs. Wrong.


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