I've seen a lot of my libertarian and leftist friends celebrating John McCain's death, or talking about how he doesn't deserve to be mourned.
It would be an understatement to say that I didn't agree with McCain's policies. To call it a mere disagreement would be to trivialize the real damage that his actions caused to countless real people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and so many other countries.
Yet at the same time, I genuinely believe that McCain was a man of principle. When it comes to foreign policy in particular, I think he really believed he was doing the right thing. He supported military intervention in countries like Burma, where there are actual genocides occurring - countries that don't have much in the way of resources or geopolitical significance, countries that other neoconservatives conspicuously seem to avoid mentioning when they talk about bringing peace and freedom to the world. Now, I think the absolute last thing the U.S. needs is to be getting involved in more foreign conflicts, and obviously I think invading Burma would've been a terrible idea from both a pragmatic and an ethical perspective. But his consistency on the issue, along with his own history as a soldier and prisoner of war, make me feel that he was at least being genuine about his reasons for supporting military interventionism, unlike 99% of the other politicians out there.
I know intentions alone only mean so much. After all, Hitler and Stalin and Mao were all men of principle too, to the extent that they truly believed in the righteousness of their own cause. There's absolutely no excuse for the countless people who've died as a result of our military interventions and proxy wars. Nonetheless, his earnest desire to make the world a better place - however much it may have been corrupted by militarism and jingoism, however much it may have been turned toward atrocious ends - makes me hold him in much higher regard than the likes of chickenhawks like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary Clinton, and now Donald Trump, who waged war for nothing more than profit and power.
On domestic issues, too, he proved himself to be a man worthy of respect. He consistently and vehemently pushed back against the racism, xenophobia, and extremism that's now come to define conservatism in America. As far back as 2008, he rejected the right-wing narrative of Obama as a foreigner and a traitor, even when it would've been politically expedient for him to go along with it - publicly insisting, against the claims of his own supporters, that Obama was simply a well-intentioned American citizen who had different ideas than him on what policies would be best for our nation.
I don't think John McCain was a hero. But I don't think he was a monster either, and that's something which is increasingly becoming a rarity in American politics.