I was pleased to see that Maine’s Speaker of the House and Senate challenger Sara Gideon (D) was also the sponsor of her state’s Automatic Voter Registration Act, which allows residents to register to vote via the DMV. Sara Gideon also voted to make Election Day a state holiday in Maine.
Living amidst the forests and all those sovereign lighthouses are Mainers who take their voting as seriously as their seafood and their L.L. Bean flannels. In every presidential election between 1960 and 2018, Maine had voter turnout above the national average, and in 2018, the state had the sixth highest turnout in the nation.
High turnout in a state almost always benefits Democrats over Republicans. Republicans feel the same way about seeing a lot of people at the polls as you and I do seeing a lot of people at the Apple Store. But unlike you and I, Republicans have the power to enact restrictive and discriminatory legislation like purging voter rolls, limiting early voting, and re-drawing districts to their benefit. So, good on Sara Gideon for making voting even easier for a state whose population already enjoys their civic participation, and sticking it to the GOP all at once.
Had she been in the Senate at the time, it’s certain Sara Gideon would have voted against putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, unlike Susan Collins, the sitting Republican Senator who voted “yes” when so many Democrats were holding out hope she’d do the right thing and oppose Trump’s beer-loving, rosy-cheeked nominee.
And before I walk Susan Collins any further to the back of the D.C. woodshed for all the destructive actions she’s taken against liberal causes under the guise of being a moderate, it’s important to give Collins the credit she is due. By virtue of being a Republican senator in a purplish state very strong on pro-life rights, she has had to walk a careful line. Despite that, she’s won herself four successive terms in office. She voted to acquit during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And she was one of the three Republican senators to vote against repealing Obamacare. For that one vote, Collins received a virtual “Darling of the Left” puffy sticker and the mistaken assumption from liberals that they need not fear when things become grave for the country; in the end Susan Collins would do the right thing.
But Susan Collins does not do the right thing for the country or for the people of Maine. Susan Collins does what Donald Trump tells her to do.
There are the occasional anti-abortion bills Mitch McConnell puts to a vote, knowing they won’t pass, specifically so Susan Collins can vote against them to save face back home. But put those aside and you can see that the most important votes Susan Collins has ever cast as a member of the Senate are exactly the ones that will preserve the pernicious stench of the Trump administration well into the second half of the 21st century: the votes she casts for judges.
Susan Collins is smart and shrewd, but she is also one #BadRedApple.
Collins claims to have agreed to a “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh only after he assured her in a private meeting that, in his view, Roe v. Wade was settled law. This argument is all at once flimsy, unimaginative, and insulting to voters for several reasons. First, and most obvious, once Kavanaugh received Collins’s vote and took his seat on the Supreme Court, a lifetime appointment, he ceased owing her anything. Both of them knew this from the moment they shook hands and sat down for their Earl Grey and biscotti.
Additionally, wasn’t Susan Collins aware that Donald Trump routinely promised to appoint only judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade during his 2016 campaign? Perhaps she was otherwise occupied during Trump’s debate with Hillary Clinton during which he made that point clear for the entire nation.
And along with the Kavanaugh vote, Susan Collins has voted to confirm over 30 other Trump-nominated anti-abortion judicial nominees. One, North Carolina district judge Kenneth Bell, even penned a 1995 op-ed attacking the abortion rights position, asking, “Why is it a hard decision? Either the unborn is a mass of cells worthy of no more consideration than a hangnail, or it is a child, which may not be killed. There is no middle ground. Only if the mother knows it is a child rather than a hangnail is abortion a ‘hard decision.’”
But just for a moment, put all that aside. Even without the egregiously politically-motivated votes Susan Collins has cast at the expense of her pro-choice supporters, there is something else to consider, and that is Collins’s mortifying display on the CBS Evening News this past February, defending her choice to acquit Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, claiming, “I believe that the president has learned from this case. The president has been impeached; that’s a pretty big lesson. I’m voting to acquit… I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”
Yes, Susan Collins proves daily that she is as disconnected from reality as any Rush Limbaugh-worshipping, Fox News-gobbling, vaccination-hating Holocaust denier you may encounter on any street, standing at the end of a line, not knowing what the line is for, but certain it must be worth the wait if so many other people are already in it. She is a smart person, but Donald Trump has her cornered, and she’ll never again vote for principles over power.
By contrast, Sara Gideon is a committed advocate for preserving reproductive rights. Earlier this month, she hosted a Planned Parenthood round table and re-affirmed her promise to defend a woman’s right to choose, and called out Susan Collins for her legislative deceptions:
“Reproductive health care is under assault by the Trump Administration and far-right judges, and Senator Collins has sided with Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump on nearly every judicial nominee. From birth control to cancer screenings to abortion, Mainers and Americans rely on organizations like Planned Parenthood for essential health care — and as Maine’s Senator, I will always defend their reproductive rights.”
Sara Gideon has won the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, not only for her consistently fighting to preserve a woman’s right to choose, but also for working on expanding Medicaid in her state, passing a law which improves private health insurance for both individuals and small businesses, and for lowering costs of prescription drugs. Earlier this year, Gideon introduced legislation in the state to cap the cost of insulin for the over 140,000 people in her state who are diabetic.
Sara Gideon is also committed to re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, providing property tax relief to state citizens, expanding job training to keep people working, and protecting Social Security.
She has also worked to ensure quality education opportunities for generations of Mainers now and still to come. She passed the “Student Loan Bill of Rights” Act to protect students from predatory lenders. She has voted to increase funding for adult literacy and college preparedness, as well as training and educational opportunities for veterans.
Sara Gideon is working for the true needs of her constituents: opportunities and advantages that can help them in their daily lives. Meanwhile, Susan Collins has not held an open town hall in her state for twenty years.
The battle between Susan Collins and Sara Gideon may prove to be the costliest senate race this cycle. Gideon has already raised over 7 million dollars, while Collins is sitting on north of 15 million. Collins’s seat may be considered vulnerable, but winning it from her won’t come without a high cost. Her long tenure in the state and the misguided belief that she is some kind of maverick will go far to protect her strategic advantage.
It’s sad to see an otherwise capable and relatively likable person surrender their integrity, fall in line as a Trump lackey, and make a fool of herself on national television. But that’s exactly what Susan Collins has done. So Susan Collins has to go.
Election Day is TUESDAY, NOV 3rd, 2020
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Note: Aside from Maine, the other states that currently have Automatic Voter Registration are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. You can learn more about AVR here.