Susan Collins shows her true self in the last days of a tight race

Susan Collins shows her true self in the last days of a tight race
Sen. Susan Collins // Photo via Gage Skidmore.

It's Nov. 2, and there's one burning mystery in Maine: Will Susan Collins vote for Trump? Seriously, for eight months she's been playing this game. "I'm focused on my job and also on my own campaign and I'm just not going to get involved in presidential politics," she said at the beginning of March, refusing to say then if she would vote for Trump in the state's Republican presidential primary when there were no other names on the ballot.

In the final debate with Sara Gideon last week, she did it again: "I'm not getting into presidential politics," she told the moderator, as if that were the least Susan Collins kind of thing Susan Collins would ever do. Not counting that 2016 op-ed in The Washington Post when she wrote: "Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country." Four years later, after Steven Miller, Muslim bans, children ripped from their families and locked in cages, Steven Miller, "very fine people on both sides," Sharpiegate, Steven Miller, Rudy Giuliani, Ukraine quid pro quo, a quarter of a million people dead from coronavirus, Steven Miller (why did I even get started trying to write a list? I'll be here until next month!)—after all that she can't say, "This guy is an even worse nightmare than the 2016 Donald Trump and I'm out!" It could be because 2016 Susan Collins was a total fraud. It could be that it took Trump to bring out the true Susan Collins.

The Susan Collins who last month embraced the endorsement of an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion group, the Christian Civic League (CCL) of Maine. And by anti-LGBTQ, I mean a group so extreme it endorses conversion therapy and opposes gay marriage. "Let me thank you so much for the endorsement and tell you how truly grateful I am for your support, for the League's support," Collins told CCL of Maine Executive Director Carroll Conley. It's not like she can claim ignorance of what this group is. Its history in Maine is just too extreme and too long. In 2004, it sought "tips, rumors, speculation and facts" about the sexual orientation of Maine legislators, on a witch hunt for LGBTQ members it could out. As far back as 1998, it was trying to deny basic civil rights to LGBTQ Mainers. "During her interview with the League," the Maine Beacon reports, "Collins pledged to be a firewall in the U.S. Senate against progressive priorities, including Medicare for All—which a majority of Mainers support—and expanding federal health care coverage for abortion." So much for being a pro-choice Republican.

Amy Cookson, the spokesperson in Maine for Planned Parenthood Votes, which is endorsing Gideon, said: "Despite what [Collins] says, her actions make it very clear that she can't be trusted to protect our health and rights, including safe legal abortion." She also said: "I think it's clear to all of us that Senator Collins has changed and she's not the senator she once was."

The latter half of that statement might be true—she's not the senator she once was. But it's not Collins having changed. It's Collins' true colors finally showing. When the fight got truly existential, when all of our rights are on the line, Collins made the wrong choice. The Trump choice. That's showing us who she is. For the last time.

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