Sen. Susan Collins is spending most of her days now trying to fend off a challenge from the right by going all-out Trumper, telling Republicans back home in Maine that she’s very proud she could cast a vote for his disastrous tax cuts and for the alleged attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh’s seat on the Supreme Court.
At the same time, she’s trying to hedge her bets by making statements about how she “believes and hopes” that the Affordable Care Act will survive the latest right-wing assault on it in the courts. She’s also pretending she’s standing up for women’s equality by doing things like co-sponsoring a bill telling U.S. Soccer to pay the incredible winning women’s team the same as the losing men’s team. This matters, sure—but it would matter a lot more if the Supreme Court wasn’t in a position to strike down equal pay, should it ever be passed into law.
It’s obvious Collins is trying to win over the progressive groups she’s always been able to snow before (i.e. women’s advocacy groups and LGBTQ rights groups and environmental groups and gun safety groups) who’ve liked having their pet Republican in their roster of candidates. In the old days, it wasn’t a bad thing. Because at one point in time, stuff could happen that was bipartisan, and it was sometimes helpful to have allies on both sides of the aisle.
The old days are over, so now the question is whether those groups will cross Collins off, finally. So far, NARAL Pro-Choice America has decided to cut her loose, and has already endorsed her early Democratic challenger, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. Planned Parenthood, astonishingly, still hasn’t announced a decision (they gave her an award in 2017, even after she voted for Neil Gorsuch).
Likewise, Human Rights Campaign hasn’t decided whether to endorse her or not. Neither has League of Conservation Voters, though they’re “disappointed” in her. National gun safety groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety aren’t even at the stage of expressing concern about her yet. Everytown president John Feinblatt told Mother Jones that Collins “has been an advocate in the fight for gun safety,” and “We look forward to hearing from all 2020 candidates about their ongoing commitment to gun safety.”
At some point it will sink in, even among the D.C. cocktail circuit crowd, that the Supreme Court is everything; that every bit of sane, life-saving, civil rights-saving legislation that may be passed in the next two decades will be challenged by extremist yahoos in the courts; and that the courts, ladened with Trump appointees, will kill it all. And Susan Collins will be directly responsible for that because of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who are going to live for decades and occupy their Supreme Court seats for just as long.
It’s not 1990 anymore. It’s 2020 and the world has turned upside down, in a very bad way. You’d think that the George W. Bush and Barack Obama experience would have taught these groups the lesson of what “working with” Republicans means in the end: losing.
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