Much has been said this week about the late John McCain’s relationships across the political aisle. Even in death, he is making the point that we need to have authentic connections with people with whom we disagree. His pallbearers are a bevy of people you wouldn’t expect to hang out together:
- Actor and left leaning activist Warren Beatty
- Former Vice President and Democrat Joe Biden
- Businessman, Former New York City Mayor and Political Independent Michael Bloomberg
- Former Secretary of Defense and Republican (who served in a Democratic Administration) William Cohen
- Former Senator and Democrat from Wisconsin Russ Feingold
- Former Senator and Democrat from Colorado Gary Hart
- Former Pennsylvania Governor, Secretary of Homeland Security and Republican Tom Ridge
- McCain’s former Chief of Staff Mark Salter
- Founder and President of FedEx, Marine Veteran, and former McCain Presidential Campaign Chairman Fred Smith
- Current Senator and Democrat from Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse
- Vice chairman of Open Russia and Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom Vladimir Kara-Murza
- Republican Event Planner Carla Eudy
- Businessman Stephen Dart
- Former McCain Presidential Campaign Manager Richard Davis.
- Former Senator and Republican from Texas Phil Gramm
That makes five Democrats, six Republicans, one Independent, a woman (we often don’t get picked to be pallbearers) and a Russian dissident. There are co-workers and work rivals. There are business people and at least one fellow veteran. The singular thing all these people have in common is that they were all in some way special to John McCain.
It’s quite possible that – after all the tributes and anecdotes and final words of unity surrounding the death of Senator McCain – Congress and the rest of us will go back to name-calling and choosing politics over patriotism.
Bridge Builders are apparently not cool anymore. In fact, Bridge Builders are often criticized even by their own people. Exhibit A: Many Republicans called McCain a RINO.
And yet I’m hoping that unicorns – those brave souls who choose to work with “the other side” – will prevail. (Vote for your local unicorn.)