Where will Collins stand?
In 1973, Rep. Bill Cohen was burdened by the dilemma of party loyalty versus country when he became the first Republican to break from his party and vote in favor of impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. For that stand, he assumed he would lose his seat in Congress and end his political career. But instead, he was rewarded by a grateful constituency that was hungry for the restoration of integrity and decency, and appreciated the courage it took to make that decision.
He was re-elected by a wide margin, even gaining some Democratic supporters. He went on to serve three terms in the House, 18 years in the Senate and four years as secretary of defense. His willingness to think independently defined his career — it did not end it.
Now it’s Sen. Susan Collins turn to decide between country or party loyalty. While deliberating the choice of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Collins has an opportunity to define her legacy as an independent, fair-minded moderate who stands up for what is right and will not be bullied by the hardline tactics of the conservative arm of her party. Since Kavanaugh was pre-screened by the Federalist Society, she should know where he stands on Roe v. Wade, she should know where he stands on rolling back health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, she should know where he stands on indicting a standing president for criminal conduct. Where will she stand?
Herbig for Maine Senate
I am so pleased to have a candidate like Erin Herbig on the ticket for November’s upcoming Maine Senate District 11 race. She currently serves as representative for House District 97 and earned the validation of her peers to serve as the majority leader.
Herbig’s main goal is to strengthen Maine communities so that they can provide the opportunities needed to keep our young people here in Maine. As a fifth-generation Waldo County resident, she understands what makes local communities tick and what we need to do to help rural Maine thrive.
For example, Herbig has been a fantastic friend to Waldo County’s first responder community. Firefighters, EMS providers and law enforcement are the backbone of our community’s security. When local fire chiefs described to Herbig the struggles they have in attracting people to join their services, she sponsored and successfully advocated for a bill to improve the recruitment and retention of firefighters.
Not only are her positions on issues important, but also the way she conducts herself. I believe in “playing fair” and “playing nice.” I have always been proud of Maine’s history of public servants, like Margaret Chase Smith, Edmund Muskie, George Mitchell and Olympia Snowe, whose commitment to the U.S. democratic process is strong and clear: to fight for what they believe in with decorum, modesty and humility. I believe Herbig is that kind of leader and she deserves our support.
Angus King listens
In the current climate of partisan politics I am a newbie to participation in the political process, inspired by my belief that each side needs to listen more to the other and then work together to find common ground, and I see no one more able to do that than Sen. Angus King.
It’s easy to blame Washington or the other guy or gal for what’s not getting done and not going right. I have to ask myself: What am I doing to change that?
As a U.S. citizen, I have the right to vote, a privilege denied to so many throughout the world, and though my participation may only be limited to my vote, it is something now I can add to as well in whatever small way I can.
For me, it has begun by working on a phone bank for King, and in the process learning more and more of what it takes for someone to be elected without the backing of big money. This is about, as King describes, “We the people being the engine that drives our nation,” telling our senators and representative with our voices what we value, and what we feel needs to be protected and supported.
King is that person who listens and, with common sense, works with both sides of the aisle to enact legislation to meet the needs of that engine.
King is the senator who listens, and the one who has my vote.
Have we any decency?
Now that our president has got us thinking about the 1950s reign of terror under Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I have thought about a turning point of that dark period. McCarthy had attacked the loyalty of our institutions and the people who worked within them, much as President Donald Trump has done. Joseph Welch was a lawyer representing the U.S. Army against McCarthy’s attacks. Welch stood up to McCarthy and said, “Until this moment, senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
As I think about that moment, I realize that the question wasn’t really addressed to McCarthy (who, in fact, had no sense of decency). The question was addressed to us, the American people. Do we have the decency to put a stop to our president’s endless attacks on the institutions that make up our democracy? Do we have the decency to stop supporting those politicians who aid and abet Trump’s attacks on American values?
As our own senator of the time, Margaret Chase Smith, put the question:
“I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear. I doubt if the Republican Party could, simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest.”
Was she right?