It’s time to wake up.I believe in Americans. We’re capable of better. I’ve seen it. We’re hopeful, compassionate people. And we still have leaders who will uphold the values that made America great, and a beacon to the oppressed.But I don’t take that for granted. We have to fight. We have to fight against propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories. We have to fight isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on earth by tearing down walls, not building them.
McCain was addressing Americans who have chosen careers with the U.S. military, so perhaps he felt more combative language was warranted. But if you read the speech, McCain doesn't seem to be speaking directly to these members of the military. He seems to be talking about the collective “we” when he urges America to fight against/defeat/wake up to “propaganda and crackpot conspiracy theories.”
At one point, he even says that all of this isn't the military's job. Much of it is up to politicians:
“That isn’t your job. Not directly. It belongs to those of us who hold office and are responsible for making sure you’re sent where you’re needed and equipped and ready for your missions.”
McCain has addressed those same politicians before on Trumpism, albeit with much less incendiary language. After McCain announced in the summer he had an aggressive form of brain cancer, he gave a speech on the Senate floor, reminding his colleagues that they are a check on Trump's power: “Whether we are of the same party, we are not the president’s subordinates. We are his equal!”
McCain's own resistance to the president hasn't just manifested in words. Twice, he has been one of the deciding votes to kill a health-care bill that Trump very much wanted passed. He praised his colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), for retiring so he could speak out against Trump without worrying about reelection.
By now, it's hardly surprising when McCain uses a public speaking opportunity to criticize Trump, even in colorful language like “half-baked spurious nationalism.”
But on Monday, McCain again upped the ante on his criticism of Trump and Trumpism by using starkly combative terms to urge people to push back against it.