What’s McCain up to?

John McCain has a history of breaking with Republican leadership.  During the Bush era, he co-sponsored the bipartisan campaign reform bill known as “McCain-Feingold”.  Though it was bipartisan, it received far more support from congressional Democrats than Republicans.  McCain then went directly against then President Bush by pushing anti-torture legislation during a time when, under Bush, the CIA was using “enhanced interrogation techniques”, such as waterboarding, to get information from terrorists.  Bush did sign this bill into law but added one of his infamous signing statements that seemed to undermine the very law he was signing.  

In 2008, John McCain declared himself a “maverick” and ran a presidential campaign where he tried to set himself apart from Bush and mainstream Republicans in the eyes of voters.  McCain has also been involved with the No Labels organization, which is meant to be a non-partisan political advocacy group that seeks to bring people together for common solutions, rather than partisan bickering.  

And now, McCain has gone against the Republican Congress once again to vote “nay” on the latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Was McCain against Obamacare before he was for it?

Needless to say, Sen. McCain voted “nay” on Obamacare, like every Senate Republican at the time.  In 2012, however, when Obama won re-election, McCain started to soften his opposition to Obamacare, claiming “I campaigned in 2012 all over this country for months: ‘Repeal and replace Obamacare.’ That was not the mandate of the voters. If they wanted to repeal Obamacare, the 2012 election would have been probably significantly different.”  Maybe McCain was just coming around to accepting Obamacare?

In 2016, however, McCain said of Obamacare “the whole thing is collapsing”.  He sounded very much like the new Republican nominee, Donald Trump.  It should also be noted, as the cited article states, that in his home state of Arizona, Blue Cross/Blue Shield was looking to raise rates by 51%.  So Obamacare was likely becoming increasingly unpopular in Arizona.

So to sum it all up, McCain was adamantly opposed to Obamacare during the Tea Party surge in 2010, then he softened his opposition following Obama’s re-election in 2012, then he was adamantly opposed again in 2016, when it looked like either Trump would win and Obamacare would be repealed, or Clinton would win and he’d be in opposition to a president who would want to keep Obamacare.

 Now, with President Trump in the White House, facing dismal approval ratings, McCain has voted not to repeal the “collapsing” Obamacare which is at least partly responsible for the rate hikes in his home state, because he thought “it was the right thing to do”?

McCain is a neoconservative

To understand McCain’s behavior, we need to look at the bigger political picture.  McCain is a neoconservative.  The only thing consistent about McCain is he’s never met a war he didn’t like.  He’s supported every single military invasion that he’s had the opportunity to vote on.  The neocons are shifting to “the center” out of self-preservation.  I’ve discussed this both in my article for Sage, and here at The Pavlovic Today.  

There is also a larger “anti-establishment” wave in America across the political spectrum.  The strategy of establishmentarians, as of late, seems to be to try to convince Americans who are fed up with partisan bickering that they are the sensible centrists.  This supposed “centrism” is actually “An Establishment Call To Arms”, as Oleg Svet explains.  What is being packaged as a sensible, moderate alternative to the political madness that dominates American political culture; is in truth an effort to put old wine in new bottles and present them to an American public that is halfway through their 12-step program.  


These establishmentarian “centrists” aren’t proposing any interesting, new, bipartisan ideas.  They’re simply rehashing the failed policies of the past decade, in a way that is bipartisan to the extent that establishmentarians from both parties are trying to save themselves.

McCain’s vote against repeal is just another small piece of that political puzzle.  Already at establishment central, the mainstream media is once again calling McCain “a maverick”.  CNN calls it his “Maverick Moment”.  The astroturfers at VOX say that McCain has “earned the ‘maverick’ title”.  Just two days ago, however, it was thought that McCain would vote in favor of the repeal.  Based on this speculation, Salon claimed: “McCain is no maverick”.  Well Salon, is he a maverick now?

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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