Sorry, Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski Are My Heroes, Not Senator John McCain

IMG_0203IMG_0204With the defeat of what Republican Senators had laughingly called a “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act, we were again shown more evidence of the overwhelming hypocrisy that has defined the Trump administration and the Republican controlled Congress. To call their inhumane legislation “skinny” when it would have resulted in millions of people losing their health insurance, hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid cuts, and tax cuts for the wealthy, is the definition of hypocrisy.

I  have been critical of Senator John McCain in the past for his strong rhetoric and inability to bring any of his fellow Republican Senators along with him to a more moderate, common sense and bipartisan place. And it appears he is still struggling to bring other Republican senators to that place of common sense and willingness to work across the aisle with other senators to actually get stuff done.

All the thoughtful and heartfelt comments made about Senator McCain by his fellow Republican colleagues only after it was revealed Senator McCain has a terminal illness (and most likely about a year to live) felt both heartwarming and hypocritical to me. Perhaps that hypocrisy was magnified by Senator McCain’s own seemingly hypocritical actions.

Who, you ask, gets their life saved with health care paid for by the American people and then flies to D.C. to be sure there are enough Senate Republican votes to debate a health care bill he has condemned and that will take away health insurance from millions of those Americans who pay for your health care and salary? Senator McCain, that’s who.

Yes, I listened to Senator McCain’s speech where he poked his colleagues in the eye for their part in the broken legislative process and the Senate not getting anything done, along with the need to return to an orderly process and working together. I saw Senator McCain enter his “historic” and “heroic” vote against the horrible skinny repeal bill. But in the end, despite his words, and literally being a dead Senator walking, he again brought none of his colleagues with him.

There were 48 of Senator McCain’s supposedly beloved Republican colleagues that followed their fearful leader, Senator McConnell. The same man who spent the past 8 years focused on not letting the country’s first black president get anything done. The same “leader” who thought it made sense to have 12 old white men Senators, with no women, meet secretively behind closed doors, without any hearings, to craft the history making health care bill to finally rid America of the scourge called “Obamacare.”

But not all the other Republican Senators followed Majority Leader McConnell. Two brave WOMEN Senators did not. In fact, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also had both previously voted “no” to even move the skinny repeal bill forward in the first place, unlike Senator McCain. Their no votes came despite the Trump White House trying its best to bullying them, unsuccessfully, into falling in line to vote for an ill conceived, horrible bill that takes away folks’ health insurance, cuts hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid, gives the wealthy more money in tax cuts – all without offering fearful Americans any idea whatsoever what the hell would happen next. The hypocrisy of this Trump White House trying to bully strong women Senators should not be lost on anyone.

Think about that. That’s not leadership. That’s immoral.

The morning after these two heroic women Senators cast their no votes, along with Senator McCain and all Senate Democrats, we were immediately inundated with news reports of the maverick, war hero, Senator from Arizona flying all the way to D.C. to cast his heroic vote to help Americans and give his colleagues hell for, basically, being idiots and not doing the jobs they were sworn to do.

Would Senator McCain have been this bold had he not been diagnosed only eleven days earlier with a terminal illness? Is that too harsh or insensitive a question to ask, or really the only question to ask? Did the diagnosis finally get Senator McCain to the tipping point of being able to vote the way he did and be a truth teller on the Senate floor? I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing it played a large part. Equally as curious and troubling to me is that Senator McCain’s truth telling as a now beloved and dying Senator brought zero of his Republican colleagues with him.. There are no words for that.

Recently, after the Senate vote, I have seen some articles and social media postings of how both Senators Collins and  Murkowski were being unfairly relegated to the background while Sentor McCain was being lifted up as the true hero and maverick. Again, this should serve as a stark reminder of how poorly the men who control things in this country continue to treat women. Sexist.  Discriminatory. Paying women 78 cents on the dollar of what we pay men. The systemic list goes on. I would include the last presidential election as a part of that list.

For a country so determined to be great again, we do not seem  curious to search for the truth in this dynamic. Maybe Senator McCain’s actions calling for a return to bipartisanship, seeing compromise as necessary and not a dirty word, really was a major take away from this vote. I won’t disagree with that.

But to me, what underlies all of that, and demands a more nuanced and critical lens, is how we continue to treat, or more accurately, mistreat, women, especially strong women leaders whose actions can  intimidate weak and insecure men leaders. My hope is that we have the honesty, integrity and courage to learn more about ourselves and why we continue to treat women so poorly – and develop the needed will to change. Perhaps the realization that our country’s success depends on it will motivate the powers that be to change. Perhaps being “unelected” might help facilitate such real change.

This entire conversation seems paradoxical to me, considering the President’s own disturbing history of disrespectful and discriminatory treatment of women. He is part of the problem and culture that fosters this systemic problem. His behavior during the first six months of his term do not give me confidence that he has the tools to change.

We must proudly call Senators Collins and Murkowski the heroes that they truly are. These two strong women Senate leaders said “no” from the get go and put their sworn oath to this country above party politics. It was Senator McCain who followed the lead of Senators Collins and Murkowski, the true Senate heroes.

Americans need to pay attention to and recognize the women who actually led in this health care debate debacle. . . and the 49 Republican Senators who intentionally put party politics, tax cuts for the wealthy, and their own political power before the health of our families, their constituents. We need to do more than just “pay attention,” but actively work to elect more women legislators to serve us all. They have proven to be more generous listeners and better problem solvers.

We need more heroes.