The real Maverick
Comrade McCain is often called a "maverick". I suppose the term is partly appropriate, in that he doesn't follow either the brand-D or the brand-R leadership consistently; instead, he follows the money.
The original political
Maverick was Mayor Maury Maverick of San Antonio.
Mayor Maury is in the middle here, with his son on the left and his father on the right; his grandfather, the eponymous Maverick and source of the metaphor, is in the picture on the wall.
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In this segment of the wonderful quiz show Information Please, from July of 1939, Maury Maverick explains the source of the metaphorical term: Listen.
And in this segment, the Mayor answers a question about the Constitution: Listen.Transcription of the Constitutional question for non-listeners.
Note that the host (Clifton Fadiman, book reviewer for the New Yorker) didn't try to drown out or censor Maverick's correct but unfashionable answer; note that the quiz show's editors also understood the point and didn't try to "re-educate" the submitted question.
Imagine a similar question on Jeopardy or Millionaire. The show's writers would require the modern incorrect answer. An unfortunate contestant who gave Maverick's correct answer would have been declared absolutely wrong, would get yanked out of his seat, tasered by Network Security, and sent instantly to Colorado Supermax as an "anti-government militiaman".
Well then, was Mayor Maverick considered a raging right-winger in 1939? Not hardly. He was an active New Dealer, a close associate of FDR, and an enthusiastic initiator of WPA projects to serve San Antonio.
According to this
personal account by his secretary, he was generally considered to be a radical, even a Communist.
What did Mayor Maverick actually believe? Read "In Blood and Ink",
his own beautifully written booklet on the Constitution. He emphasizes territory and property as the source of rights and prosperity. Defending your own land, your own house, your own family, your own country, is the crux of the matter.
This, then, is the correct definition of the word maverick
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Clarification after re-reading: I wasn't trying to say that Maury Maverick was a 'conservative' in modern terms; he was most certainly a Populist in the original sense, or more precisely an Agrarian. He wasn't cheering for state's rights; he was saying that state's rights needed to be decreased. The difference I'm trying to emphasize is not in ideology, but rather in the understanding of what a Constitution means. Maverick and Fadiman both understood in 1939 that the document is meaningless if the personal feelings of judges are allowed to rule the country. Maverick wanted to see the document changed in the direction of more central planning, but he wanted the change to be done properly,
through the process of amendment, so that it could be undone later if it turned out to be wrong. When we allow the menopausal hormone surges of Lesbian Leninist black-robed saboteurs to serve as perpetual precedent (stare decisis) we lose the ability to undo an obsolete or bad policy.