In his remarks at John McCain’s funeral yesterday, President Obama said in part, “(W)e never doubted the other man’s sincerity. Or the other man’s patriotism. Or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team.”
What Obama intended to imply was that he and McCain both worked for the good of the country within a system that has existed for generations and is widely accepted as the right way to govern America. There’s no reason to doubt that McCain felt the same way.
The unspoken goal of this favorable comparison of their perspectives on American government is to refuse to acknowledge that there is another team fighting Obama, McCain and legions of other statists who seek to continue and expand centralized power within this generally accepted paradigm they so favor. They and their allies in the national media would prefer to characterize the entirety of this ‘opposing team’ as unsophisticated, dissatisfied rubes or worse, racists who care only about returning to time when America was whiter. Casting this characterization as widely as possible is at the root their constant false, misleading, or overemphasized narratives about Trump and all his ‘deplorable’ supporters.
While they do undoubtedly fear Trump and the populism he represents, there is another team that has worked in consistent opposition to their statist movement. Its successes have varied but as time has seen centralized power in Washington D.C. grow, this effort has only grown stronger and more committed.
Constitutionalists and those who believe in America’s first principles have always been the team which Obama, McCain and the rest of the statist team must keep at bay. When Obama says he and McCain always knew they were on the same team, it is in this context, which he no doubt did not intend, that I really agree with him. They both believed in diminished federalism and the growth of central power in Washington without any real regard for whether the Constitution actually authorizes it. As a result, their debates, like most of the debates between the national parties, were more akin to disputes among coaches of the same football team about what game plan to implement or what plays to run. Their dispute was most often over how to share or apportion the ever growing power of Washington, not how or whether to return any of it to the states or to the people.
This isn’t meant to imply that there aren’t some who are committed to constitutionalism and first principles among the GOP national elite. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee in the Senate and Justin Amash and Louie Gohmert in the House are a few examples. But McCain was not. He was a committed statist and as such, deserves to be recognized as having been just as “sincere” as Obama in exemplifying their brand of “patriotism” as they worked to move the ball down the field for the cause of statism.