Imploring Collins on Trump

Message to Sen. Susan Collins: Help. Since 1975, you have lived a life of public service that few can equal, serving the people of Maine with distinction. For all those who claim to hew to their own line, you are the one who really does.

You have been a model of decorum, thoughtfulness and courage in an increasingly chaotic political environment. Yours has been the voice of reason, capable of rising above the rhetorical and the theatrical to speak your mind.

You have not dodged the tough issues. You have not been afraid to depart from the Republican party line when you thought it best for the country and for our state. Senator, we need you now.

You are a product of the state you represent. Maine has a reputation for setting its own trap line. We have supported the candidates and policies that suit us, whether they were nationally in vogue or not. And we have supported you, for all these years, because we trust you to think clearly and independently and vote accordingly.

At various times we have chosen Democrats, Republicans and independents to lead our state as members of Congress, governor and state legislators. At the local level, we vote without regard to political party.

Though the ultimate winner of our state elections may not be our first choice, we have worked through our differences and continued to move the state forward, regardless of who was at the helm.

This year is different. We now have a presumptive Republican presidential nominee who would not pass muster in a Maine kindergarten. He is rude. He does not listen. He makes fun of people for how they look, even people with disabilities.

He is unable to explain his own policy proposals. He has limited awareness of the world and who is in it. The plans he proposes range from the unlikely to the illegal. The opinions of leaders around the world have shifted from comedy to horror at the thought of a Trump presidency, asking out loud what has become of the country the world depends on to keep the fraught international climate from spinning out of control.

Many well-respected Republicans around the country already have indicated that they simply cannot support their party’s nominee. The state of Maine did not support him in the primary election.

Hillary Clinton may be difficult, if not impossible, as an alternative for Republicans, but that does not mean a lifelong Republican must support this most unsuitable candidate.

An alternative does not need to figure into the picture. Senator, we have turned to you time and again for your leadership. Please do not endorse Donald Trump. Step back from the election if you must, but do not lend credibility to this candidate.

Surely your party will not be made stronger by the Trump candidacy. And the country? No matter how sick we may be of government business as usual, of political rhetoric and false promises, of feeling that we are taken advantage of by forces within and outside this nation, surely the answer is not Trump.

Republicans have a great deal at risk. There is a deep divide within your party. That divide will not be bridged by electing a person who is disrespectful, who tries to humiliate those who disagree with him, who is inaccurate regarding the most essential tenets of healthcare, education, foreign policy and national defense.

There cannot be a political candidate more antithetical to the public servant you have been throughout your political life. Your career in government has been one of reasoned discourse, respect for differing opinions and a genuine willingness to work toward reaching the highest possible level of agreement across party lines.

It would be hard to reconcile your distinguished political career with support for a candidate like Trump. It is not a matter of policy difference. He is simply a person who, by virtue of his entirely distasteful behavior, is not suited to lead our country. As one Republican critic said, he is both “psychologically and temperamentally unfit for the office.”

Okay, we are angry with the status quo. Will we really wish upon ourselves a flamboyant, excitable and deeply uninformed leader who has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the world and all that dwell therein?

Senator, we know you have the insight to see that this man would be a dangerous leader. And we know you have the courage to stand up and speak up for what is right. Even if it is too late for your party to come up with a way to avoid the inevitability of a Trump nomination, we urge you to withhold your support for him.

Your name stands with the pantheon of Maine leaders who make us proud. Smith, Muskie, Mitchell, Cohen, Snowe, King and you, Collins. We understand that there are partisan pressures in and around you that urge you to support the Republican nominee. But this time, for the sake of all of us, please do not put your influential name behind this reprehensible candidate.

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