Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday hammered “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in the U.S. in an emotional speech after receiving a prestigious award.
“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 the Earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” he said.
“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil,” McCain continued after receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal.
“[Americans] are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did.”
McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, added that the U.S. has “a moral obligation to continue in our just cause.”
“And we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t,” he continued. “We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with his medal before the Arizona Republican’s remarks.
McCain received the honor for his “lifetime of service and sacrifice” to the U.S., joining such past recipients as 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The senator was diagnosed with brain cancer in July, earning a bipartisan outpouring of support for his health.
McCain served for more than two decades in the Navy before entering Congress, at one point spending five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.