John McCain is the only person who ever forced me to vote for a Democrat for president.

In 2008, his cynical selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate simply because Barack Obama hadn’t selected Hillary Clinton was more than I could handle.

I saw a lot that I liked in Obama, including the fact that he didn’t select Clinton as a running mate and I still haven’t seen anything I like about Palin.

In 2012, I voted for myself as an official write-in candidate in Kansas. I received 48 votes and almost beat Obama in one precinct.

In 2016, neither major party candidate earned my vote.

In the years since McCain went through with this miscalculated move to pick Palin, I have learned to like the man again.

In 2008, he was my favorite candidate by far until he failed to vet Palin beyond her folksy Bible-thumpin’ gun-totin’ momma bear charade. I had been a big fan in 2000 when McCain took on George W. Bush. He got off to a great start with a win in New Hampshire before his campaign was derailed in South Carolina. That is when George W. and his minions started brutal campaign attacks. The public side of the attacks featured veterans saying McCain came back from Vietnam and forgot about his fellow veterans. Forget the fact that the attacks came from the Bush campaign, but the accusations didn’t hold water on their own. The whisper campaign was even more destructive. Bush supporters started pushing a story that McCain had a black child outside of his marriage. Of course, in the deep south, that campaign was unfortunately effective. By the time he ran again in 2008, his daughter Bridget — who was adopted from Bangledesh — was older and a bigger part of campaign events.

I couldn’t believe such acts of cowardice were carried out against a man who 50 years ago was being held captive and tortured as part of his service to his country. A military man, McCain was forever disfigured because of what his captives did to him for years.

His reward? George W. Bush insulting and impugning him and a man of no character getting elected in 2016 despite the fact that he dismissed McCain because “he prefers war heroes who aren’t captured.”

McCain got the last laugh as he was the final vote to derail Trump’s attempt to repeal Obamacare. As he continues to fight for the country and the party against a man whose actions could destroy both, McCain was awarded the Liberty Medal this week.

One of the best quotes from McCain’s acceptance speech was about the Trump administration and their attempts to use protests to divide the country and create heroes out of neo-Nazi protesters and villains out of professional football players who kneel during the National Anthem in protest of racial inequality.

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” McCain said.

McCain went on to say he was a lucky man because he had the opportunity to serve this country. He is wrong.

The rest of us are lucky because people like him served this country so well in battle and in Congress.

“I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me,” McCain said. “I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.”

It took Donald Trump to get me back on the McCain Train, but I am glad to be back. When it comes time to choose teams, I would rather stand behind a guy who remembers whose side he is on even when he is being tormented and tortured on a daily basis.

Trump recently made a veiled threat to McCain that if he continued his attacks on the president that he would fight back.

I have seen McCain endure years of torture as a POW and having his good name run through the mud as a candidate and he always fights back and always wins. I don’t think he is scared of some old dude’s Twitter rant.

John McCain has earned respect. The NFL players aren’t dishonoring the military with their protests before games, but the president is when he attacks a true patriot like McCain.