John McCain seems like a good and decent man, and his Cancer diagnosis is horrific. It’s the kind of news that makes you sick to your stomach; a tragedy for his family that rivals little else. It would be horrific, sickening, tragic news even of he weren’t a good and decent man, even if he wasn’t a public figure, even if his name carried no resonance in the larger population. He is a human being, up against an urgent and violent threat—and this should deeply move each of us. Politics and religion should burn away in the light of the fire he is facing, because we recognize how fragile and fleeting life is.
And that’s why talking about healthcare in the wake of this terrible news isn’t disrespectful, it isn’t in poor taste, and it isn’t political opportunism—it’s the damn point. The personal hell that John McCain and his loved ones are walking through right now is the point of it all.
These moments are precisely what we’re talking about, arguing about, screaming about:
The atomic bomb of grief that gets dropped on your family when you get the test results and your planet is altered forever.
The abject terror that befalls you when someone you love is facing a literal fight for their continued existence—and all you want is for them to win it.
The swirling storm that rushes in and overwhelms you; a million questions about outcomes and treatments and percentages and nightmare scenarios.
The bottom immediately dropping out of your sense of peace and safety and normality.
Feeling like everything is suddenly caving in—and at the very least, you hope you won’t lose everything you have trying to keep someone you love alive.
This is a universal disaster, one none of us are strangers too. If you’ve logged time here, you have names and faces attached to your terrible stories, to your miraculous recoveries, to your answered prayers, to your endless grieving. This is why this matters.
John McCain deserves life. He deserves to have every available resource exhausted to try and make him well. His family deserves this. His wife and his children deserve it. The people who treasure him deserve it. They deserve it, not because he’s wealthy or known or “important”—but simply because he’s loved by someone who wants more time with him. That’s enough for me. Every human being deserves this. Every spouse and every child and every treasured person.
John McCain is priceless to those he loves and who love him—as priceless as the people you love are to you, as you are to them.
He is a household name, but every one of us is a household name to someone whose life is defined by our presence and who would be decimated by our absence.
Accessible healthcare is something we need to talk about now, because Cancer is an equal-opportunity bastard who cannot be defeated without help; because life-threatening illness is a bully that knocks the hell out of you and those who care about you, because we are all terrified of dying and want to know that we won’t be left alone if it all hits the fan.
I want John McCain to live. I want him to get to spend more time with those who would grieve his loss in ways I’ll never understand. But I want this for you too. I want it for your father and your children and your friends. I want it for those I love. I want it for people I agree with and people I don’t.
We should be for one another. We should fight for each other’s life with all that we have.
This is what America does when it is at its best.