During a speech Monday night accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called on American leaders to reject “spurious nationalism” and maintain the United States’ role leading the world, in an apparent reference to President Donald Trump.
“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 to applause in the crowd, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
The senator called for the U.S. to defend the country’s ideals.
“We 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. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t,” he said. “We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”
McCain did not mention Trump’s name, but his speech appeared to be aimed at the President’s “America first” approach, as Trump has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, threatened the Iran nuclear deal and pushed to nix international trade deals.
Watch a clip of McCain’s speech via CNN: