John McCain (AP/Matt Rourke)

John McCain warns of "half-baked, spurious nationalism"

Receiving the Liberty Medal, McCain decries the nationalist movement growing on the right


Taylor Link
October 17, 2017 12:33PM (UTC)

In a clear shot at President Trump, Sen. John McCain denounced the nationalist movement he engendered, during a medal ceremony on Monday. The Arizona Republican said the ideology was made for people who would rather "find scapegoats than solve problems."

He also decried the the abandonment of American ideals that had survived for almost a century.

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"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," McCain said, "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."

The former Republican presidential nominee said the U.S. had a responsibility to protect and project the ideals of democracy. But this current movement was an inherent threat to everything America has fought for.

"We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad," he said. "We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did."

"We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't," McCain continued. "We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."

McCain was awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan institution based in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers debated the nation's future centuries ago.

The award was presented by Joe Biden, the former vice president who served 22 years with McCain in the Senate. Biden spoke of the relationship he had with McCain.

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"We often argued — sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other's patriotism and the sincerity of each other's convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in," he said.

"John, you have broken many times, physically and otherwise, and you have always grown stronger, but what you don't really understand in my humble opinion is how much courage you give the rest of us looking at you," Biden added.

Watch a clip of McCain's speech here:


Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump John Mccain Nationalism Republican Party White Nationalism

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