John McCain’s Dying Declaration 

As he lay dying John McCain penned this statement. Having received it from a trusted colleague, I have little doubt as to its authenticity. 

Dying Declaration of John McCain 

My Fellow Americans,

I’ve faced death many times, in Vietnam and elsewhere, but it was only over the course of these past few days that I realized that although I would cease to exist, my legacy would endure. And as this dawned upon me, I shuddered with fright. I felt as Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich must have felt when he was on his deathbed: my god, I thought, I’ve lived my life all wrong! I spent my life advocating for and enabling war, and heaping hardship upon the poor, completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Could I possibly repent? And, if so, how? Is it too late?

For much of my political life I’ve been known as a maverick, and I was a maverick – for a maverick refers to an unbranded calf, an immature animal. And maybe it’s been a long time coming, possibly even too long, but I’ve grown up a bit.

I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, or if there’s a hell. But I do know that, through the US military, I’ve made life hellish for too many people here on earth. This must stop. But how?

Well, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a Christian nation to follow the words of the prophet Isaiah and to beat our swords and spears into pruning hooks and ploughshares – and our bombers and tanks and aircraft carriers into housing and schools and food and medical clinics.

But while reading the Bible has always inspired me, so does reading the history of these United States. And what I also find inspiring is that our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, had a plan to create a national university system. That’s what led me to think about what I would like my legacy to be. In order to abate global warming, which is growing worse by the hour, and clean up the mess we’ve made, and in furtherance of world peace, we could use our military budget to close our overseas bases, bring all our troops home, and direct our troops to building this national university system that John Quincy Adams dreamt of.

The troops could build campuses in every neighborhood, from sea to shining sea. Each could have medical schools and nursing schools and medical clinics. And these could provide free medical care to the communities. The campuses could also have all sorts of academic programs, athletic programs, art programs and technical programs (programs that could deliver clean water and clean energy to the cities, towns, and rural regions of the continent). Agriculture and horticulture programs could grow food in each community, ending hunger and poor nutrition – because, as with water, energy, and other necessities, the products of these would be for the community to enjoy for free.

As all members of the community would be students, and all students would receive free housing, homelessness and poverty could be eliminated as well.

In addition to being centers of learning, these campuses could be centers of participatory democracy and self-governance. Communities could grow their own food, and trade it with other colleges; develop their own movies, music, art, architecture, and technologies, and share these in festivals and competitions held among the schools. And, because free food, housing, and other necessities will free people from the demands of a market system, people can develop their potential outside of market pressures, contributing to a vibrant, free and open culture, liberated from fear and oppression.

As the lights around me fade, I highly encourage the people of the USA to elect people to office who will divert the US war machine into this venture. I recognize that it sounds fanciful, but if I am lucky my name will be attached to the creation of such a system of locally-run, interconnected colleges, both at home and abroad. And, instead of a legacy of war, poverty, pollution, and misery, I will leave a legacy of peace upon this earth.

It’s not too late,

John Sidney McCain III

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber