Sen. John McCain took a covert swipe at President Donald Trump during a speech at the US Naval Academy on Monday night.
This was not the first time McCain criticized the president during his speeches. On Monday, he told his audience of midshipmen that democracies have the responsibility to recognize the risk that nationalist and isolationist ideologies pose.
“It’s time to wake up,” said the senator.
“We are asleep to the necessity of our leadership, and to the opportunities and real dangers of this world. We are asleep in our echo chambers, where our views are always affirmed and information that contradicts them is always fake. We are asleep in our polarized politics, which exaggerates our differences, looks for scapegoats instead of answers.”
McCain’s words are powerful. Trump is unfit for office and regularly scapegoats instead of looking to formulate real solutions to the problems that Americans face.
Here’s the problem: America’s electorate is not just “polarized.” We are faced with the choice of whether we are going to stand up for human rights and the health of our democracy, or if we are going to allow Donald Trump, his administration, and right-wing extremists to dismantle everything that makes this country worthwhile.
Perhaps McCain could explain why he voted “yes” last week to dismantle a key consumer protection rule that made it easier for consumers to file class-action lawsuits against banks and financial institutions.
McCain said that “tyranny is always a threat to peace” and that “there could be no more isolationism, no more tired resignation – no more ‘America First.'”
McCain also made it a point to allude to Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall.
“We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on earth by tearing down walls, not building them.”
Those are some truly wise words from the senator.
“How did we end up here?”, McCain asked. “Why do many Americans ignore our moral and historical knowledge and seek escape from the world we’ve led so successfully?”
The era of global success, the senator argues, has shifted to “a time in which the seductions of authoritarian rule find favor with many; when self-interested leadership excuses naked aggression with weak rationalizations; when ethnic grievances haunt the old and religious fanaticism fires the minds of the misguided young.”
“We have to fight. We have to fight against propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories. We have to fight isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions.”
Earlier this month, McCain warned against “half-baked, spurious nationalism.” Last week, the senator appeared to mock Trump’s draft deferments during the Vietnam war.
McCain is right – we do have to fight for a world where everyone is valued and treated with dignity. We have to stand up to authoritarian rule and make our voices heard.
But we also have to fight against policies that make the rich even richer, because if we don’t, Donald Trump and his cronies win anyway.