Following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, center, was praised by her fellow lawmakers for leading the bipartisan effort, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. From left are, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Though either side will claim the opposite, “Trump derangement syndrome” does not afflict just one viewpoint.
Consistent opponents of the president are unable to imagine any circumstance in which they will support his administration and policies. Conversely, uncritical supporters are incapable of questioning the man in the Oval Office for they belong to the same political party, and apparently, allies should never be called out. Both perspectives are all-encompassing and dishonest. Yet, millions of Americans cling fast to one or the other, convinced that their worldview is rooted in something other than tribalistic tendencies.
This explains much of the behavior we’ve seen in the past month surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
The Democrats and their anti-Trump allies have weaponized the #MeToo movement and engaged in the smearing of a good man and jurist with no history of sexual misconduct simply because they oppose the president who appointed him. This brand of NeverTrumpism is just as cultish as anything they claim from their MAGA hat-wearing adversaries.
Thankfully, the egregious behavior seen during this process has also allowed others to make headlines for their fair approach to a difficult subject. One of them is Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).
On Friday, Collins delivered a speech on the Senate floor that was nothing short of refreshing. During her almost 45-minute long turn, she went through it all: Judge Kavanaugh’s history on the bench, his focus on precedent, Dr. Ford’s obvious trauma and allegation, the other, more outlandish accusations, the additional hearing, the fallout, the lies, and the search for the truth. In the end, she announced that she too was a “yes” vote, exclaiming, “I’ve never considered the president’s identity or party when evaluating supreme court nominations.” In fact, she has voted to confirm Justices Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch. Her speech was thoughtful, detailed, pointed, and most of all, fair.
I routinely disagree with Senator Collins on the issues, most especially reproductive ones. She is a supporter of abortion, believes it to be a “woman’s right”, and is a vocal defender of Planned Parenthood. You’ll never get me to see eye-to-eye with her on these matters.
She is also an unapologetic critic of President Donald Trump.
In August 2016, she penned an op-ed in The Washington Post where she stated the following.
I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.
So far, during the Trump presidency, Senator Collins has been a very reliable GOP vote, supporting many of the policies and people backed by the administration. And still, she doesn’t shy away from calling out the president for his words or actions. Most recently, she labeled his comments about Dr. Ford during a political rally in Mississippi as “just plain wrong.” And she was right.
I think we all have much to learn from the way Senator Collins has traversed over this very polarizing political landscape in recent years. She is known as a bit of a maverick and works as a bipartisan trailblazer when appropriate. Her take is especially needed now, when emotions are leading the way and mere dislike of the commander-in-chief means you must reject everything that he proposes, including nominees.
She is proof that you don’t have to be an ardent supporter of the president (or even have voted for him) in order to fairly consider the issues.
There is nothing appealing or honest about full support or hatred of any person, including Donald Trump. That statement won’t make many people happy since the vast majority of Americans seem caught up in either side, but I believe it’s the only way to approach our current reality. Like Senator Collins, I have no reservations about pointing out when the words, actions, or policies of our president step well over the line of decency or reject conservatism entirely. I will always criticize behavior that I deem to be morally incorrect. I will also praise him and his administration for the good that is done and defend him and those speaking for and appointed by him whey they are wrongly attacked. I will do so with no concern for who I might frustrate.
This might look like a new form of NeverTrumpism to some, but I believe it’s nothing more than a common sense approach to these dark and confusing times.
During her speech on Friday, Senator Collins summed up her concerns this way.
“When passions are most inflamed…fairness is most in jeopardy.”
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that political anger from all sides has been stoked. Since many are wearing blinders of their own making, few will fairly assess what we see before us.
I wish more people, politicians and flyover country residents alike, would adopt Senator Collins’ measured tone and deliberate reliance on facts, no matter the situation. It’s the only way to ride out this ferocious political storm.