If you needed another reason to not vote for Donald Trump, you got one on Monday. In a thoughtful and persuasive opinion piece for The Washington Post, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins made her stand clear: Trump may be the Republican Party’s nominee for president, but he doesn’t actually represent Republican ideals and will not get her vote.
Collins is one of the highest-ranking Republicans to denounce Trump, and her decision sends a message to those in the GOP who have condemned his sexist, racist and all-around absurd statements but not his candidacy. Others should follow her lead and fast — including U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who so far has dodged questions about Trump while expressing excitement about a Trump presidency at an event in May.
Some may think the choice was obvious, but that doesn’t detract from the significance of her announcement when you consider that she’s breaking with congressional powerhouses who include Sen. John McCain, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Many other top party leaders have stood by Trump, too, including former Speaker John Boehner, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
There’s no question Collins made the right move in standing up to political momentum that may, at times, seem bigger or more inevitable than her 836 words. Those forces are not unstoppable. Don’t underestimate the ability of many small grains of truth to topple towers.
Collins’ underlying argument is one worth differing with her party over — that it’s necessary to protect those who don’t have the platform to respond in kind to Trump’s flagrant and frequent disrespect.
“With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or 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,” Collins wrote.
He has mocked a reporter with disabilities, insisted a federal judge could not rule without bias because of his ethnicity and attacked the parents of a man killed in Iraq because of their religion. In none of these cases did Trump apologize or admit his error.
“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 wrote.
In drawing attention to Trump’s inability to atone for his misdeeds, Collins highlighted another important quality the U.S. should want in a president but that Trump clearly lacks.
“Regrettably, his essential character appears to be fixed, and he seems incapable of change or growth,” she wrote.
A strong president knows how to make tough calls after weighing the available information, inspires the country to be the best version of itself, tries to unite those with differing views, stands up for the vulnerable, communicates with compassion, grows with experience and admits when he or she makes a mistake.
In no way should Trump be president. Collins showed she gets it.