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When politicians strive to win “for the sake of winning,” everyone loses. The Senate’s responsibility is to collaborate and compromise, producing functional and effective legislature. Now, more than ever, representatives must see beyond the nation’s divisive tone and remain unified in their shared duty to create legislation that encourages progress. To accomplish this, more senators should adopt a bipartisan outlook like that of Senator John McCain.

At 1:30 AM on July 28, after hours of deliberation, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stood at the front of the Senate floor awaiting McCain’s vote on the American Health Care Act, otherwise known as the “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare.

As McCain, who had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer, entered the room, McConnell’s grin faded, while Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VA) prompted his neighbor to watch closely. McCain approached the Senate Clerk, and paused, then flashed a dramatic thumbs down, ending the Republican Party’s plan to repeal ObamaCare, which would have stripped over 15 million Americans of their health care.

Despite the plan’s significance to the Republican Party, McCain took a stance against his own faction, something he has done repeatedly in his 30 years as a Senator.

Before running for office in Arizona, McCain served in the Vietnam War as a Navy pilot, during which he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for over five years. When he returned home from Vietnam, unable to resume his job as a pilot, McCain turned to the next best way he thought he could serve his country: politics. By the time he ran for President in 2008, McCain had earned himself the “maverick” reputation, a title he maintains to this day.

Addressing his Republican colleagues in Congress earlier this summer, McCain stated that “trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle” resulted in “[getting] nothing done.” He stressed the importance of compromise, especially at a time when the Senate is more “partisan” and “tribal” than ever.

Although McCain, like every politician, has his faults, what sets him apart is his ability to recognise these faults and encourage his colleagues to do the same. McCain took responsibility for the role he played in partisanship in the past, admitting that sometimes he “wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy.” This is something that nearly every Senator can relate to, and McCain’s confession likely triggered some necessary self-reflection in his colleagues.

McCain is one of the few representatives in Congress to stand by concrete values and morals rather than simple party affiliation. His willingness to speak up for what he believes in— whether it be defending climate change and DACA, or advocating against torture— is worthy of respect and reciprocation. The GOP must demonstrate similar grit by acting on behalf of the American people with integrity, rather than simply advancing a political agenda.