Susan Collins Joins Other Republicans In Opposing Trump, But What Took So Long?
More Republican officeholders are distancing themselves from Donald Trump, but it's time to start wondering what took them so long,
Senator Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican office holder announcing that they cannot support Donald Trump:
Sen. Susan Collins joined the growing list of Republicans who say they aren’t supporting Donald Trump in the general election.
“Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country,” she wrote in a piece for The Washington Post.
The senior senator from Maine lists three major incidents as explanations for why she can’t support Trump: She cited Trump mocking a reporter with disabilities, his comments that an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage is biased against him and his attacks against the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, as reasons she will buck her party’s nominee.
“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,” she wrote.
She expressed concern about Trump’s potential effect on American foreign policy, saying, “His lack of self-restraint and his barrage of ill-informed comments would make an already perilous world even more so.” She criticized Trump’s lack of commitment to America’s allies on the same day 50 GOP security officials signed a letter that said Trump is a risk to “our country’s national security.”
Collins wrote that she hoped the Republican nominee would “tone down his rhetoric” for the general election and apologize for past oversteps, but said: “The unpleasant reality that I have had to accept is that there will be no ‘new’ Donald Trump, just the same candidate who will slash and burn and trample anything and anyone he perceives as being in his way or an easy scapegoat.”
I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.
When the primary season started, it soon became apparent that, much like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mr. Trump was connecting with many Americans who felt that their voices were not being heard in Washington and who were tired of political correctness. But rejecting the conventions of political correctness is different from showing complete disregard for common decency. Mr. Trump did not stop with shedding the stilted campaign dialogue that often frustrates voters. Instead, he opted for a constant stream of denigrating comments, including demeaning Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) heroic military service and repeatedly insulting Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
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.
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 cites three of the most vitriolic of Trump’s public comments as the reasons behind her decision. The first up was when Trump openly mocked and made fun of a reporter with physical disabilities who had pushed back against Trump’s claims that he saw thousands of Muslims in the United States celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The second came more recently when Trump attacked the ethnicity of the Judge presiding over the multiple fraud claims involving Trump University. And, not surprisingly, the final straw for Collins, as it seemingly has been for so many others, was Trump’s attack on the Gold Star parents of a Muslim-American soldier who died in Iraq defending his fellow soldiers. One complaint about this, of course, is that the last two incidents, which occurred at or near the time Trump became the nominee, were hardly the first time that Trump had said or done something outrageous. It was on the day he launched his campaign, for example, Trump made comments about Mexicans that were widely denounced but did nothing to stop his rise in a polls. A few weeks after that, Trump launched an attack on John McCain and his record of service. By the next month, he was attacking Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, and other women who had been critical of him using insults that many took to be incredibly sexist. He attacked political opponents like Ben Carson not on the basis of policy, but on a deeply personal and vicious manner. Finally, of course, Trump has reserved some of his worst insults and prejudice for Muslims, including a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Given all of that, how can Collins and other Republicans say that they are so shocked by similar comments made in the past two months? Like many other Republicans, Collins has been well aware of just what kind of person Donald Trump is, and what kind of candidate he is, from the start, and they sat back, said nothing, and let him take over the Republican Party It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for them now.
Collins has said that she also would not support Hillary Clinton, but she doesn’t say what she will do on Election Day a of yet. In any case, this makes Collins the eighth Republican Senator to say that they will not support Trump in the fall. The others are Ted Cruz (TX), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Mike Lee (UT) and Ben Sasse (NE). Beyond this list, there are several more Senators who have expressed what can be described as at best tepid support, or who have issued bland statements stating that they will support the party nominee but don’t intend to campaign with him. Indeed, with the exception of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and the handful of Members of Congress who have formally endorsed him, most of the Republicans on Capitol Hill who have gotten behind Trump have been very quiet in their support. It’s only been very recently, though, that we’ve seen officeholders becoming more vocal in their opposition, In addition to Collins, we’ve seen Congressman Richard Hanna of New York, who is not running for re-election, endorse Hillary Clinton while outgoing Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia has announced that he will be supporting the Libertarian ticket of Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.
With the poll numbers getting worse by the day, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing candidates for office and officeholders distancing themselves from Trump. This includes not just people who are running for re-election in 2016, but also those who may been looking ahead to re-election bids in the future like Collins, who will be up for re-election in 2020 unless she decides to run for Governor of Maine in 2018. At some point, after the full impact of the Trump candidacy on the Republican Party has been made clear and the seemingly post-election civil war long over, many people who are prominent in the GOP today will find themselves having to answer for where they stood while Trump and his supporters took control of the party. No doubt, Collins and other anti-Trump Republicans believe it’s in their interest to be publicly on the record as opposed to the idea of putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office, even if it means Hillary Clinton becomes President.