John McCain Condemns “Half-Baked Spurious Nationalism” at Medal Ceremony

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”

In what was widely interpreted as a rebuke of white nationalism and the “America first” principles embraced by President Donald Trump, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday warned against the dangers of “half-baked spurious nationalism.”

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” McCain said during his acceptance speech for the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, where he was introduced by former Vice President Joe Biden, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil,” he continued.

McCain was one of the few Republicans to condemn Trump by name for his response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, when the president repeatedly blamed both sides for the violence and claimed that there were some “very fine people” among the white nationalists.

The Arizona senator’s mention of “blood and soil” was a reference to some of the chants used by the white supremacists during the rally.

The event on Monday was dedicated to honoring McCain’s service. Trump has never apologized for claiming the Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war was “not a war hero.” 


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend