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Remembering the McCain and Obama Rivalry

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on August 31, 2018 22:53

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It was about issues, political ideals, and profound love of the country that defined their campaigns. Despite the differences in their politics, both candidates maintained civility and mutual respect, exemplifying American values. That was the McCain and Obama rivalry.

I was fresh out of academic training in 2007 and 2008 when I followed closely what was considered a model of a vigorous democracy when candidates talk real politics on the campaign trail. Former Sen. Barack Obama’s idealism and commitment to universal values inspired me as I worked as a community organizer in Manila, educating folks in the grassroots about protecting and promoting democracy through clean, honest, and free elections. Sen. John McCain’s depth of experience in policy-making opened my eyes to realpolitik, that a good policy must undergo a rigorous debate and horse-trading in Congress.

Obama, a Democrat, captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with his eloquence. McCain, the Republican candidate, had shown maturity and mastery of both domestic and foreign policy. They’re equally decent, admirable men of principle. They debated on the pressing issues of the day, laying out the details of their arguments supported by facts and not by propaganda and “fake news.”

Throughout the course of the campaign, missteps and mistakes were made along the way. But McCain and Obama refused to be defined by their differences, they remained respectful to each other. McCain even famously defended his opponent from a misinformed woman on the campaign trail.

Their rivalry was done at the highest level of politics where the public was offered intelligent choices on policy, just as what politics should be. Because in a democracy, it is for the people to decide through the ballot which policies best fit the country and who would implement them.

I wondered back then if the Philippines could come up with such a high-level political discourse from our politicians: focus on the issues at hand like the economy, international relations, and domestic policies. To my surprise, we had almost similar election campaigns in 2010, and that was partly inspired by the rigorous but civil debates between the two outstanding Americans in Obama and McCain.

McCain eventually conceded to Obama, and in his speech, he rallied his support behind the president-elect and asked his supporters to do the same, showing the world grace in defeat, putting the interest of the country above his own. In the process, as Sen. Lindsey Graham said in his emotional tribute to his friend, McCain “healed the nation.”

McCain’s passing after a year-long battle with brain cancer has united the Americans from both ends of the political spectrum as they paid tribute to a good man who never shied from admitting mistakes and errors, which is a rare trait for a politician nowadays. McCain showed determination and courage in adversity -- a former prisoner of war who put the welfare of others first before his own, and a man of integrity who served and championed his nation’s ideals.

The maverick is sure to be missed so do the good old times when politicians actually talked politics, ideas, and facts with coherence, vigor, and eloquence. It seemed so long ago.

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on August 31, 2018 22:53

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Source: The Hill
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Former Secretary of State John Kerry paid tribute to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after the announcement of his death Saturday...

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