As miscalculations go, John McCain’s lighthearted but misguided bid to reach a milestone in Twitter followers was appropriately, in the social media universe, an inconsequential fail.
The Arizona senator sought 74 more followers to hit 3 million; instead, thousands took to an #UnfollowMcCain campaign within hours.
More long-lasting and serious is the outcry over his vote — and that of fellow Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake — in favor of the GOP tax reform bill that won passage without a single Democratic vote.
In so doing, McCain and Flake squandered a perfectly good opportunity to cement their legacy as deficit hawks, fiscal conservatives and sensible Republican senators.
The #UnfollowMcCain campaign matters because it reflected the frustration and anger of Democrats and independents who counted on the "maverick" McCain to reject the tax reform bill that nonpartisan experts say will benefit the wealthiest Americans while hurting the poor and the middle class.
They were holding out for the same maverick who just earlier this year cast the decisive vote that killed legislation to repeal Obamacare.
Flake caved for THAT?
Flake, meanwhile, has been a prominent Trump critic who essentially, and famously, chose to end his political career rather than compromise his “principles” to do what was necessary to win over Trump supporters.
In the tax vote, however, Flake and McCain clearly chose the interest of the Republican Party rather than what's best for the country. If the senators were going to support the tax bill despite its fiscal irresponsibility, I wish they’d have fought harder to win more consequential concessions.
Flake’s explanation is most baffling because he prides himself as a deficit hawk, yet was nonetheless willing to vote for the plan that could increase the federal deficit by more than $1.4 trillion over a decade.
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And what did Arizonans get in return? Well, a lot if you’re among the "1%" super-rich.
But wait, Flake explained that he also got a commitment from the Trump administration to have a seat at the table to negotiate protections for so-called "dreamers" who were brought to this country illegally by their parents.
Seriously, congressman. You took the Trump administration’s word?
Why #UnfollowMcCain matters
This is the president that ended the Obama-era program that protected the roughly 800,000 dreamers and gave Congress until March to pass legislation.
Trump has used dreamers as political pawns, consistently spewed lies on all sorts of issues and hasn't hesitated to throw under the bus anyone who criticizes him.
And are we supposed to be grateful that our senator, whom Trump has repeatedly mocked and forced him out of his re-election bid, may be welcomed to the negotiating table?
Forgive me if I’m not impressed.
I understand that for wealthy Americans, Flake and McCain don’t need to justify their tax vote. For them, after all, it’s a perfect holiday gift.
But for idealistic people like me and many of those who unfollowed McCain in anger and protest, we believe elected officials should represent the interests of all Americans — not just those affiliated with their political party.
Tax reform is overdue. But tax cuts and redistribution of wealth should be equitable. That turns out to be too much to ask of our Arizona senators and their Republican brethren in Congress.