Democrats & Liberals Archives

There May Be Truth in the McCain-Palin "Maverick" Claim

Both McCain and Palin are claiming they are “mavericks.” It is an interesting claim - particularly from a person from the southwestern United States (McCain is one of the Senators from Arizona).

I am sure, that there is an assumption that "maverick" means "independent" or "not conforming to the rules," but that is usually applied as an adjective - not a noun. "Maverick" more typically, and particularly in the southwest, is a calf that has become separated from its mother and becomes the property of the first person to "brand" it.

The word "maverick" actually comes from the U.S. southwest and links back to a rancher - Samuel Maverick:

Samuel Augustus Maverick (July 23, 1803-September 2, 1870) was a Texas lawyer, politician, land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. From his name comes the term "maverick", first cited in 1867, which means independent minded. Maverick was considered independent minded by his fellow ranchers because he refused to brand his cattle.[1] In fact, Maverick's failure to brand his cattle had little to do with independent mindedness, but reflected his lack of interest in ranching.[1] He is the grandfather of U.S. Congressman Maury Maverick, who coined the term gobbledygook (1944). (wikipedia)

The word came from Sam Maverick's practice of not branding his cattle and then rounding up all unbranded cattle as his own . In other words, he was a cattle "appropriator." This from a friend of mine:

Samuel Maverick, a Texan back when it was its own country, had a lot of cattle... like many others who claimed the wildlands of the back-country West as "common lands". Most people who had cattle kept an eye on them, and the practice of annually rounding up one's branded cattle to sort out and sell some, and brand the calves of the new season, eventually became universal. But, in Sam Maverick's day, when longhorn cattle were sometimes only valued for their hides & tallow (because there was no refrigeration, and the railroads hadn't pushed near enough yet- so sailing ships were the method of transport), there were plenty of "cow-rich & cash poor" ranchers... including him.

So, Maverick figured that he would brand None of his cows... and at roundup time, his crews went through the bush and drove unbranded cattle to his ranch, to be done with as he saw fit. Of course, there were always escaped cattle around... and not all of them Maverick's... but it wasn't considered a problem, at the time.

* You can read his whole excellent discussion from this MySpace link under Sunday, September 28, 2008 "my iron is red hot"

Now Governor Palin has been announcing that she an McCain are not only "mavericks," but they are a "team of mavericks." This would seem to be closer to "first one to brand them," rather than the "nonconformist", "rule breaker," or even "loner" interpretations. In fact a "team" of "mavericks" is an oxymoron (kudos to Kelly for noticing that) - kind of like the idea of an "anarchist party."

It would seem that McCain lost his maverick status a long time ago, as he has embraced an ideology of corporate deregulation and cronyism (Savings and Loan scandal anyone?), and has voted almost in lock-step with George Bush over the last seven years - hardly and independent response. Not to mention his vaunted military background - hardly an arena where "mavericks" aka "rebels" are welcomed or tolerated.

Likewise, Sarah Palin has declared herself a "maverick" while at the same time avowing that she is a "hockey mom" - in short, a stereotype. Further she embraces the image that she is an average middle class woman, with a middle class family. In fact, that she is a living, breathing, specimen of "Main Street" America - Joe Six Pack ya know? More stereotypes and that is the antithesis is "rebel" or "nonconformist."

Perhaps that is how they get by with making claims of "maverick" with a straight (no pun intended) face. Since it ties back to a land baron who cared so little for the animals that were his responsibility, and violated the rights and good will of his neighbors ... yep. Or even that it is a hidden message to big bucks out there that McCain and Palin are open to being "branded" ... You betcha!

You can read through the various definitions of "maverick" here.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at October 4, 2008 11:35 AM
Comment #265811

If McCain were a real maverick the corporate world would of vetted him out of the process a long time ago, like they did with Kucinich, Edwards, Paul, and Howard Dean!

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at October 4, 2008 11:52 AM
Comment #265813

Thanks Rowan, I’m always up for a good etymology lesson, especially a relevant one. A team of mavericks is like a group of non-conformists. The whole maverick thing with McCain is and always has been a myth. Was he being a maverick when he was taking money and doing favors for Charles Keating? Was he being a maverick when he spent a career deregulating our financial institutions? Was he being a maverick when he supported torture? Nope, not even close. He is the antithesis of a maverick. I won’t even start on Palin - that’s low hanging fruit if there ever has been.

Posted by: tcsned at October 4, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #265816

Mike the Cynic: How true you are. The Maverick and the Agent of Change had their opportunity this week and they voted for the statis quo.

Posted by: jlw at October 4, 2008 12:40 PM
Comment #265818

A maverick is someone who is unpredictable, unreliable, and imprudent.

There is the original meaning, and then there is the common adapted and adopted meaning. The original meaning has become generalized over time.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 4, 2008 1:08 PM
Comment #265824

Good job Rowan!
Personally I think they should both be cut loose from the herd to return to grazing and foraging on their own. Don’t need tainted critters getting into the markets. ;)

Posted by: janedoe at October 4, 2008 1:50 PM
Comment #265825

mav·er·ick (mvr-k, mvrk)
1. An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it.
2. One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter.
Being independent in thought and action or exhibiting such independence: maverick politicians; a maverick decision. ‘slap whee ha!’

Posted by: Rodney Brown at October 4, 2008 1:59 PM
Comment #265830

>mav·er·ick (mvr-k, mvrk)
1. An unbranded range animal, considered the property of the first person who brands it.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at October 4, 2008 01:59 PM


Oil Companies and S&Ls branded both these worthies, and now our ‘mavericks’ wear those brands…

“The fundamentals if our US economy are sound.” McCain’s words, early last week. He must still belong to the high finance crowd.

‘Drill, baby, drill”, might be the words of someone who’s been branded…’big oil’…

Thanks for the enlightenment…

Posted by: Marysdude at October 4, 2008 2:33 PM
Comment #265842

“Oil Companies and S&Ls branded both these worthies, and now our ‘mavericks’ wear those brands.”

Truer words were never spoken. Dude you are so right

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at October 4, 2008 4:11 PM
Comment #265845

A maverick ain’t nothing but a cheap ford from the 70’s

Posted by: Jeff at October 4, 2008 4:28 PM
Comment #265848

Jeff, my vote goes to you for the gold star today!!!!

Posted by: janedoe at October 4, 2008 4:55 PM
Comment #265849

MD, sometimes I don’t always agree with you, but you always prove that Laughter is the best medicine.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at October 4, 2008 4:58 PM
Comment #265854

>MD, sometimes I don’t always agree with you, but you always prove that Laughter is the best medicine.
Posted by: Rodney Brown at October 4, 2008 04:58 PM


Darn…and I thought I was being serious…

Posted by: Marysdude at October 4, 2008 5:49 PM
Comment #265867

I thought, given the end of this article I’d repeat (excising a little sarcasm) a comment I’d made in the center aisle. To wit-

I am reminded that Democrats are so civilized that when they have the presidency and Republicans the Congress they are steamrolled by the Republican Congress (Senator Clinton on Gramm/Leach/Bliley), and when they have the Congress and Republicans the presidency they are steamrolled by the president (the credit rescue bill, war funding, this nuclear trade bill, etc.).

Does the Democratic Party really have the courage to LEAD?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 4, 2008 8:28 PM
Comment #265868

My apologies, folks. The previous comment was meant for Walker Willingham’s article. Working on more than one tab I got confused.

Not as smart as I thought I was…

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 4, 2008 8:33 PM
Comment #265871

Lee perhaps its because the dems don’t have a veto proof majority that it appears they are being steamrolled. If you will recall until this bail out bill the repub congress marched lockstep with the administration. In fact don’t they hold the 1 year record for stonewalling dems on the work of the 110th congress? That is why this Congress has an approval rating of 15 percent.

As far as having the courage to lead I would think we have to wait to see the results of the election. Even though many think the thing is all but over we still need to play the game. Should Obama be elected I think courage will be the least of the dems problems.

Posted by: j2t2 at October 4, 2008 8:39 PM
Comment #265875

The last month before the election will see McCain’s people concentrate on negative campaigning. The GOP could not present any positives. No one believes McCain is ‘maverick’ representing change. Very few people approve of the GOP stand on the economy, Iraq, health care, social security reform, or virtually any other major issue. We’ve known the lowest of the low attacks would come, and now McCain’s people have begun in earnest.

The last month will see some despicable character attacks by McCain, Palin, but most of all, in advertising. Brace yourself! It’s coming.

Obama has a large lead right now, and due to a truly superior campaign organization, Democratic voter turnout is antiticpated to be 1 - 3% above what polling results currently project. Yes, it’s that good. Many people have no idea what’s coming down the pike on election day. The organization for voter turnout has been the core of Obama’s campaign. It’s a steam locomotive roaring down the track, and if you listen, you can hear the whistle…

Posted by: phx8 at October 4, 2008 9:26 PM
Comment #265878

I enjoy the historical origins of words as much as the next person, but as far as McCain is concerned, you can find dozens upon dozens of articles and op-eds going back decades that describe him a reform-minded person individual with an extensive record of both bucking his own party and reaching across the aisle.

Until he stood in the way of Obama’s coronation, it was something even liberals said all the time—including liberals at such places as the New York Times. Once he became the Republican nominee, the same people who once praised his independence turned around and began saying the opposite.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 4, 2008 10:43 PM
Comment #265881

It should come as no surprise that McCain-Palin are now relying on smear and fear in a last ditch effort to win this election with unsubstantiated lies, despite McCain’s two-faced promise to run a clean campaign. First, because John McCain has nothing to run on except a failed policy of deregulation. Second, because he is desperate and knows that lies and smears work. Herman Goering once said that “…people can always be brought to doing the bidding of leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger.” Fear is a powerful motivator. And the radical right has learned from experience that if they repeat their lies enough people will begin to believe them. Moreover, the more outrageous the lie, the more likely people are to believe it. I for one find it very disturbing that John McCain would openly and proudly embrace the philosophy of one of history’s most notorious and despicable monsters!!!

Posted by: Robert at October 4, 2008 11:02 PM
Comment #265884

phx8 - True that they are resorting to the most negative garbage - Palin is accusing Obama with “being friedly with terrorists”. They are really getting desperate, they see the writing on the wall and that writing doesn’t say President McCain. I don’t know what they think they are accomplishing, the first debate showed that undecided voters aren’t interest in that crap. What a bunch of sleazebags.

LO - if he’s such a “maverick” name one vote that went against his party in the last 8 years that actually made a difference? Where there was a close vote? He takes safe, very calculated stands against his party where his vote either won’t matter or he talks a big game and then votes with his party. It’s just an empty word, utterly meaningless. I don’t think Palin even knows what the word means - someone just wrote it down for her to read.

Posted by: tcsned at October 4, 2008 11:06 PM
Comment #265891

Tcsned, McCain has voted against his party about 100 times in just the last few years.

He takes safe, very calculated stands against his party where his vote either won’t matter or he talks a big game and then votes with his party. It’s just an empty word, utterly meaningless.

This is utterly absurd.

In fact, more often than not, it’s the little things that McCain votes with Republicans on.

Are you are not aware of McCain-Feingold, a very controversial piece of legislation that Republicans like myself consider totally unconstitutional? Do you actually not remember “the Gang of 14” and McCain’s role in it? And how angry mainstream Republicans were at McCain? McCain was calling for the closing of Guantanomo before most Democrats were. McCain is actually WAY too liberal and close to the Democrats for my taste and has been a thorn in the side of conservatives for years. To the major consternation of many Republicans, in 04 McCain was loudly and visibly attacking the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Do you suppose that this garnered him a lot of favor with conservatives?

If McCain were a party-line Republican, then why did John Kerry want him as his running mate against Bush, and why did McCain (reportedly) seriously consider Liebermann as his running mate?

The most ridiculous thing here is that the points you raise clearly apply to Barack Obama 100 times more than they do to John McCain.

Obama has NEVER stood against ANY prominent left-wing, liberal position. Not once.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 5, 2008 12:51 AM
Comment #265893

It’s going to be rough. The Republicans have nothing to lose (except more seats in Congress), and after the way the House Republicans treated McCain with the failure of the first vote on the bailout, in refusing to follow his leadership, McCain won’t care about protecting the House members. McCain thought he would take credit for the bailout, and both Dems and Reps agreed to deliver half of their members in a vote. But McCain failed as a leader, and the GOP refused to votein favor. Even worse, the morning of the vote, McCain gave a speech taking credit for passing the bailout, yet it failed. EPIC FAIL. Meanwhile, Obama met with the players behind the scenes, took charge, and delivered. That was the final nail in the GOP coffin. The accounts coming out about Obama in those meetings confirms what we all suspected: Obama has the makings of a terrific president.

But negative campaigning usually works, and McCain’s campaign brought in Rove’s people at the beginning of July. I don’t think there’s anything too low for those people. They have nothing positive to offer, and nothing left to lose. So it’s coming. It’s a shame to have to endure people on the public stage who have no honor, but nothing will stop the McCain campaign from going very, very negative.

Posted by: phx8 at October 5, 2008 1:11 AM
Comment #265897

I is not just the worry about losing an election that has me going, but rather the rotten taste in people’s mouths in the afterglow of the election…if we win, people who bought into this claptrap are still going to be suspicious and hateful. Current divisions are going to chasm wider.

Rovian politics doesn’t just win or lose elections…Rovian politics destroys our American heart.

We don’t always have to agree, but we should always respect the other view…by our own words in these threads, Rovian politics works all too well…

Posted by: Marysdude at October 5, 2008 5:38 AM
Comment #265898

I am still upset about McCain coming out supporting torture after all those years of standing up for his values and principles in the past, esp when it came to torture policy. It still confounds me and although I rarely agree with is policy stands, this surprised me and showed me just how far he would go against his so-called values to get elected.

I also had felt sorry for him in the past being blasted years ago by the Bush machinery in the nasty innuendo that came out about his adopted daughter. UNtil recently I thought he was just protecting her by keeping her under wraps. Now I hear he is nasty and mean himself when it comes to her and calls her his wife’s daughter, not his idea……………..I have just begun to see his mean spiritedness and nasty side and feel like a fool that I have been so blinded by the hype about McCAin all these years.

Posted by: judye at October 5, 2008 8:03 AM
Comment #265899

for the article about McCain and his daughter, go to this site….

Posted by: judye at October 5, 2008 8:09 AM
Comment #265900

I’ve got some bad news for John McCain:
In Maverick County, Texas, named after Sam Maverick, democrats reign.
In Maverick County, Texas, we know the real meaning of the word “maverick”.
We knew Sam Maverick, Sam Maverick was our friend.
John McCain, you are no Sam Maverick.

Posted by: Steve Johnson at October 5, 2008 10:33 AM
Comment #265901

Even his Cattle were Maverick’s “Maverick’s stated reason for not branding his cattle was that he didn’t want to inflict pain on them. Other ranchers however, suspected that his true motivation was that it allowed him to collect any unbranded cattle and claim them as his own.[75]”

Posted by: Rodney Brown at October 5, 2008 11:02 AM
Comment #265907

judye, as much as I’d like to have that article confirmed that you submitted re: McCain, at this time, it can’t be.
We have more than enough real, proven, justified and justifiable “ammunition” to use against the old reprobate!!
I did find this site, though, while following through on yours….

Posted by: janedoe at October 5, 2008 12:37 PM
Comment #267861

Unless we show our intelligence by getting along and solving
problems affecting the whole planet.
If you don’t, how will you feel, and how will the rest of the World look at us.

There are no sides.
( Lui- ? BC )

Posted by: Dagmar at October 22, 2008 3:41 AM
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