August 28, 2018
“We should not think that what John McCain would want us to do in this time and place is in any way reducible to marble. Because, just as America is not the sum of her cities, so too the United States Senate is not the sum of its buildings.”
Video of Senator Sasse's speech is available here or by clicking on the image above
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the need to rightly remember Senator McCain.
Excerpts of the Senator Sasse’s speech are below:
“So, how do we honor this man? There's a lot of talk around here right now about what we should do to honor John McCain and it's an important conversation. My understanding is that the two leaders are going to get together and they're going to put together a commission to deliberate over the next many weeks or months about the proper way to honor John McCain.
“So, there are important things to talk about and, yet, I want to urge one bit of caution. Which is, we should not think that what John McCain would want us to do in this time and place is in any way reducible to marble. Because, just as America is not the sum of her cities, so too the United States Senate is not the sum of its buildings. The United States Senate is not the places where we meet.
“As John reminded us in his farewell charge, read posthumously yesterday, America is an idea. America is a cause. America is about liberty. America is about justice. America is about universal human dignity. And even though John could often run over you when you were having a debate … probably more than any person I've ever met, John actually believed in universal human dignity.
“[W]hen the public looks at this institution right now, when the public looks to this city, they don't see a place that looks like its beating heart is to proclaim that universal American idea. To proclaim that American sense that everybody is created with infinite worth. And yet, though we know that, we're not doing that much about it. And this institution, most of the time, we finger point. We don't problem solve. And the public is groaning for us to do better.
“The last few years should be blinking red lights for all of us who are privileged to serve here for a time. When the American people look at Washington, they rightly think that it's shady for cabinet members and their spouses to be raising money from foreign sources.
“When the American people look at Washington, they rightly think that there's a whole lot of shady going on and that people's taxes and their finances outta be disclosed when they're running for an office of public trust.
“When the American people look at Washington, they don't see most members of Congress as stewards of the public trust, but rather as hypocrites with taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements.
“When the American people look at Washington, they think it's weird that the average member of Congress has an investment portfolio that grows much faster than the market average, and when people leave jobs in this institution, they often head for cush jobs on K Street, rather than moving back home which is where they said there were going to end up after they ran for office.
“We've seen multiple indictments across both the legislative and executive branches just in recent weeks in this town. Is it any wonder that the American people look at us and they wonder if we really care about the crisis of public trust? Is it any wonder that John McCain was impatient with the pace of us tackling big problems in this place?
“[W]hen we get back, and as this commission gets kicked off, trying to figure out the proper way to honor John McCain, I plan to make a proposal that we should find a way to honor John McCain, not just in marble, maybe that's a step that's important... But if John McCain were here, I submit to you that John McCain would not be all that concerned about what names and placards and signs we put up on buildings and meeting rooms. I think we should find a way to honor John McCain in a way that John McCain would have seen fit.
“This man is gone and we are surely poorer for it. But we can do something big, that's in line with the spirit of how he wanted to disrupt this place. If we wanted to make both parties uncomfortable -- John was a guy who liked to point both barrels at both parties -- I think we could find a way to do that in a way that the American people would applaud. And I think that might be the right way to honor John McCain.
“His willingness to take on everybody and all the sacred cows in this town was why a lot of people hated him. But it's why a lot more people loved him. And I think if we're going to honor his spirit, we outta find a way to do something that's big and disruptive and uncomfortable for Washington, D.C.”