A Nation of Ideals

By Christina Damian '20 | November 6, 2018

A Nation of Ideals Exhibit

Sarah Hummel ‘19, Connor MacGregor ’19, and Matthew Solomon ’20 have worked together to cultivate a new exhibit at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) entitled, “A Nation of Ideals,” with a special tribute to the late Senator John McCain.

The United States of America is often portrayed as representing a particular set of ideals or principles. These ideals, stemming from the nation’s colonial and early republic history, weave politics, diligence, and elements of faith into a recognizable image. This concept of American ideals has been explored in American literature, political rhetoric, and media content, manifesting itself in such forms as the Puritan or Protestant work ethic and the American Dream.

“The essence of freedom is that each of us shares in the shaping of his own destiny.”
- Richard Nixon, First Inaugural Address

The three curators examined how various presidents and political figures have interpreted and promulgated American ideals. From President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Senator John McCain, across the aisle and spanning the twentieth century, many ideals remain the same. 

Senator McCain was first elected to represent the Arizona’s First Congressional District in 1982, serving for two terms before being elected to the Senate in 1986. He became a member, and later Chairman, of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

McCain campaigned for the Presidency twice, failing to secure the Republican Party nomination to George W. Bush in 2000 and losing the election to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in 2008. McCain’s Senatorial career continued, as he became involved in issues such as immigration, investigating Russian interference in American elections, and the debate over the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in which he cast a deciding vote. McCain passed away on August 25, 2018. 

The late Senator’s presidential runs and career on Capitol Hill are highlighted in the exhibit.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”
- John McCain, Farewell Letter