Our first thoughts have to be with Sen. John McCain and his family, of course.
Despite what some people in high office may think, Sen. McCain is an American hero. He is a patriot and a man given to serving his country. And he is a prime example of public service for every American willing to witness his dedication to his state, his country and his fellow man.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned his political party, his policy positions or any particular political ideology that may compel him or confound his critics. No, my thoughts about our neighboring U.S. senator are all about his humanity and the humanity of those who are thinking about him.
You see, there is a level at which most Americans can meet and agree — yes, even compromise — for the good of our country. Sen. McCain has sought that common ground more often than not and, for that, he should be seen as an example of good citizenship, in sharp contrast to those who consider elected office and the compromise it requires as something to be shunned and someone to be denigrated for even trying.
I am writing about John McCain because his recently revealed medical challenges are not dissimilar to those of so many Americans. And, like many others in this great country, the courage he displays in dealing with those challenges is what we should celebrate and respect.
I have seen brain cancer up close and personal. It is not fun and it requires the very best medical attention, coupled with a gritty determination to defeat an unrelenting adversary. In that regard, we all wish Sen. McCain great success.
It should not be lost on anyone — especially his U.S. Senate colleagues — that this very public fight against cancer is taking place right in the middle of a GOP-led struggle to repeal and/or replace Obamacare.
There is little doubt that the good senator — as well he should — has and will continue to have the very best medical attention available. Insurance? No problem. Access to the finest and most experienced doctors? No problem. The ability to fight this challenge at home, on the job or wherever the patient is best able to fight? No problem. And the knowledge that when this fight comes to an end, however it turns out, that his family will not be financially devastated.
The irony is that Sen. McCain’s vote could have been and may yet be the deciding vote that determines whether regular Americans will have the same opportunity to defeat their brain tumors, heart problems or any number of other life-threatening medical issues that befall them.
Who can or should decide which life is more important, more responsible for advancing the American experiment, more worthy of being saved through heroic and costly medical procedures or just simple and regular doctor visits?
Who is best able to determine whether it is John McCain who will win the medical lottery because he is adequately insured or whether it will be a young, bread-winning father of four whose loss to that family could mean another generation raised in poverty?
And why should the wealthiest nation on Earth have to make that choice? Why can’t both the senator and the working father of four both have adequate and responsible health insurance? And why shouldn’t a single mother also be properly insured so that her medical issues — specific to women — will also be a priority in this country?
It is appropriate and American to wish well for John McCain, to pray for him and his family and to do all we can to provide him the best medical attention available anywhere on the planet. After all, he is John McCain. And we are doing all of the above.
Is it any less appropriate not to provide for any other American whose medical challenges pose the same threat to life, limb and family?
I think not. And that is why I think the debate in Congress — over how many millions of Americans the GOP-led effort to repeal Obamacare will displace and most likely condemn to death by the inadequacy of our medical insurance programs — is so inhumane.
Fix what is broken with the law, but for God’s sake don’t break a law that provides the ability for every American to stand up to brain cancers and other challenges that will affect every family in America.
John McCain will fight with all of his strength to defeat this latest adversary. He will have all the financial tools available courtesy of the government. Shouldn’t the Congress provide the same opportunity to all Americans?
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.