Following in the footsteps of at least a dozen fellow Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has declared that she cannot vote for Donald Trump. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Collins laid out her reasons for not supporting her party’s presidential candidate.
As a life-long Republican — who has been in the Senate since 1997 — Collins notes that this decision was not made lightly. But Trump does not “reflect historical Republican values” nor is he inclusive, something she feels is “critical to healing the divisions in our country.” She admits that Trump (and Bernie Sanders) appealed to those who felt they were not being heard in Washington. These people were tired of “political correctness.” But, she observes, being PC is quite different from “showing complete disregard for common decency.”
As Trump’s instances of douchebaggery (my word, not hers) piled up, Collins was “increasingly dismayed” at Trump’s cruelty and refusal to apologize.
But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing — either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level — that revealed Mr. Trump as unworthy of being our president… My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities.
Collins cites three incidents in particular that drove her to her decision. The first was when Trump mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski, who debunked Trump’s claim of seeing “thousands” of Muslims celebrating the World Trade Center’s destruction.
The second incident that shocked Sen. Collins was when Trump went after Judge Gonzalo Curiel, saying that the adjudicator could not be impartial in a case involving Trump University because of his Mexican heritage. This, Collins states, demonstrates Trump’s “profound lack of respect” both for the judge and our constitution.
The final straw for Sen. Collins came when Trump went on the attack, criticizing the grieving Gold Star parents of Capt. Humayun Khan. This was enough for Collins to withdraw her support. The rest of her party doesn’t seem to care, though.
Collins mentions many other reasons for her refusal to support Trump. His “lack of self-restraint,” she says would “make an already perilous world even more so.” Trump is “reckless” and has a propensity to “lash out when challenged.” These tendencies could escalate any potential dispute, causing it to spin “dangerously out of control.”
Sen. Collins admits that she had hoped to see a “new” Donald Trump once the primaries were over. Sadly, she came to see that was not going to happen. Trump’s “essential character” seems to be set and he “seems incapable of change or growth.”
There are those Republicans who will call Sen. Collins a turncoat (or worse). She acknowledges this:
Some will say that as a Republican I have an obligation to support my party’s nominee. I have thought long and hard about that, for being a Republican is part of what defines me as a person. I revere the history of my party, most particularly the value it has always placed on the worth and dignity of the individual, and I will continue to work across the country for Republican candidates. It is because of Mr. Trump’s inability and unwillingness to honor that legacy that I am unable to support his candidacy.
While many in the GOP will castigate Sen. Collins for her stance, many more Americans will applaud her. It does take courage and fortitude to stand against one’s own “tribe.” But, like many others this bizarre election, Sen. Collins must follow her conscience. We should all admire that.
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