20 July 2019
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delivers a eulogy at the funeral of the late senator John McCain. Photo: Bloomberg
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delivers a eulogy at the funeral of the late senator John McCain. Photo: Bloomberg

A funeral for the traditional US political elite

Before his death, the late US senator John McCain met frequently with his staff, advisors and close friends at the Capitol to plan for his own funeral.

In his final days, McCain made it very clear that he didn’t want President Donald Trump to attend his funeral.

When he departed, all the political heavyweights of the traditional US political elite, including almost all living former presidents and vice-presidents, all living secretaries of the State Department including Henry Kissinger, and nearly all Republican and Democratic members from Congress, were present at the funeral.

Even some of the sitting members on Trump’s cabinet such as Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly were also invited.

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush delivered eulogies, praising the late senator and making insinuations about Trump.

McCain’s daughter, Meghan, didn’t pull any punches and made frequent jibes at Trump throughout her eulogy for her late father.

She said, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great”, a remark that was clearly directed against Trump and the new era he has been pitching.

Meghan McCain’s words indeed represent a main theme that has already become a consensus among bipartisan political elites in the United States: their grudge against Trump can no longer be settled within the political establishment.

Suffice it to say that McCain’s funeral was not so much an event to honor him as a “struggle session” mounted by traditional political elites against Donald Trump.

However, despite the open season on Trump, all the tirades against the president have failed to stop a lot of average American voters from liking him and supporting his vision of a New America.

Their continued support for Trump isn’t because he has high moral values, but because he appears to have the common touch that most Washington politicians don’t have.

Trump’s supporters don’t seem to care about whether he is constantly lying or not. For them, the “hypocritical” traditional political elites in Washington are lying through their teeth every day, anyway.

The undeniable truth is, the populist sentiment is now reigning supreme across the US in the internet age, whether the traditional elites like it or not.

The more intense the open hostility of Washington political elites toward Trump, the more the contempt for the political vested interests is reinforced among his supporters.

Trump may be gone one day, but the populist sentiment and the loathing for traditional political elites among ordinary Americans will stay.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 4

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Associate professor and director of Global Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Lead Writer (Global) at the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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