McCain’s brand of patriotism is a needed alternative to Trump’s nationalism

Trump’s nationalism causes him to be forgiving or even admiring of foreign despotism. McCain’s patriotism led him to despise tyrannies and tyrants. McCain loathed Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump gushes over him. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s record of working for dictators and Russia-backed goons made him radioactive to McCain, but that wasn’t a problem for Trump. (It may have even been a bonus.)

Both could be scathing critics of international institutions and alliances, but Trump’s indictments largely revolve around any obligation that impedes his “America first” nostrums, while McCain’s focused on threats to democratic values and American leadership.

In 2007, for instance, McCain proposed creating a League of Democracies to counter the influence of the United Nations and other organizations that do not really care about democratic values. After all, the U.N.’s admission criteria boil down to mere existence as a nation. The Security Council was created on the principle that might makes right, which is why China and Russia are on it. The various human-rights bodies are magnets for autocracies and dictatorships desperate to rig the system in their favor. The General Assembly is democratic solely in the sense that evil dictatorships get an equal vote to enlightened democracies.