I came across a fascinating post on political science professor Amy Fried’s Pollways blog at the Bangor Daily News that links Sen. Collins to the history of political courage shown by Mainers in Congress, and think it opens up a good angle for us to persuade her to stand up to Trump.
At the height of the Watergate investigation, Collins was an intern for then-U.S. Representative Bill Cohen, a Republican from Maine who later served as Senator–succeeded by Collins–and then as Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration. Cohen showed tremendous courage in being one of the first Republicans to break with the party in supporting impeachment of Nixon, and Collins was a close witness to his courage.
The Senate seat held by Collins, and Cohen before her, also belonged to another role model of hers: Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. Smith was a moderate Republican, and the first woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Maine. In only her second year in the Senate, Smith was one of the first senators to warn against fellow Republican Joe McCarthy’s early red-baiting in a famous floor speech called the Declaration of Conscience. In it, she says she doesn’t “want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” She further states:
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:
The right to criticize;
The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
The right to protest;
The right of independent thought.
With Trump making threats to free speech and a free press on a regular basis–most recently in yesterday’s flag burning tweet–we need a powerful voice like Collins to stand up to her party and deliver this same message more than ever. Please feel free to mention this in your calls!
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