Saying a farewell to arms

Last week was the week that was. In the short space of time we saw two more close associates of our president added to the list of persons either pleading guilty or found guilty. And we bade farewell to Aretha Franklin, who sang us through decades of civil rights turmoil, but somehow left us filled with hope, and lastly, Sen. John McCain, the last of the three Amigos.

I know some will say, “Wait a minute. Sen. Graham is still in the Senate.” Yes, but Joe Lieberman has retired and the heart and soul of the trio has died. It is clear that Sen. Graham will not pick up any of the sentiments of conscience and good governance that Sen. McCain represented.

I grieve. I disagreed with Sen. McCain on so many issues, but he had me with his push for campaign finance reform, immigration reform and basic decency. I listened in awe to his late-night farewell address to his colleagues just before he voted “no” to destroy irrevocably the Affordable Care Act.

Few people remember that his thumbs down vote was not in disapproval of the actual bill. He supported repealing the ACA. But he was absolutely opposed to the broken processes within the Senate that would bring such a bill to the floor with no hearings, no open debate, no input from one party when he was a fierce advocate for bipartisan deliberative legislation. His farewell address to his colleagues urged for a return to “regular order.” For hearings and open debate, and a cessation of “take no prisoners, blitzkrieg” legislating.

He will lie in state in the capital rotunda. He has earned his place there. A flawed man who loved this country and our democracy with every fiber of his being. We can add our own thoughts and prayers for the “Maverick of the Senate.”

In addition, I will be grieving the formal passing of an era. There will be no voice like his or his friend, who predeceased him by nine years to the day, Sen. Ted Kennedy, we can be sure there will be no return to regular order for the chamber he so loved.

What a contrast he was to what we now have. What will it take for “we the people” to truly honor everything he tried to stand for; honor, integrity, a passion for people and democracy?

Elaine Silverstrim