For the Resistance, one of the most frustrating aspects of trying to shut down Donald Trump’s agenda has been having to rely on unreliable people like Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has voted with and against Trump in various key moments. The Resistance has consistently taken an approach with Collins which never had any chance of working – but a recent change in gameplan has changed all that.
Last year, Susan Collins was the swing vote which prompted the Senate Intelligence Committee to begin its investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Then she voted to save ObamaCare, against the wishes of her own Republican Party. But then she voted in favor of Trump’s massive tax scam, totally screwing over her own working class constituents in the process. What prompts her to alternate between doing the right and wrong thing? It’s sure as heck not a conscience; it’s her desire to win reelection in her moderate state. To be more direct, it’s about money.
For a long time, the Resistance seemed to believe that if it appealed to Senator Collins’ sense of decency, she could be persuaded to do the right thing. But when it came to the tax scam, not only did she vote for it, she then had the protesters at her office arrested. She’s clearly not acting on her conscience. Instead, she’s trying to come off as reasonably moderate so Maine’s voters won’t turn against her, while keeping the wealthy conservative Republican Party donors in the fold as well.
That’s why it was such a stroke of genius to begin fundraising for her eventual Democratic opponent, for use if she votes in favor of Donald Trump’s corrupt extremist Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It won’t matter how much reelection money Collins gets from her wealthy far-right donors, if mainstream Americans more than cancel it out with a metric ton of small donations. More than a million dollars has already been raised in the name of destroying Collins if she does the wrong thing on Kavanaugh. It’s clearly rattled her.
Senator Collins, who usually chooses her words very carefully, lashed out at the fundraising effort, denouncing it as an attempted “bribe.” Well, no. It’s not a bribe. It’s blackmail. But it’s a perfectly legal and ethical form of blackmail, because it’s simply using Citizens United – the ruling so beloved by Collins’ own Republican Party – against her. The million-plus dollars raised in just a few days is enough to make clear that there’s no limit to how much money mainstream Americans will donate to destroying her if she rubber stamps Kavanaugh.
So how will Collins end up voting? As with all corrupt politicians who are desperate to come off as reasonable moderates, it’ll come down to a simple calculation for her: what will give her the best odds of reelection in 2020? Will the money she gains by voting yes be enough to overcome the money her opponent will gain if she votes no? At the least, the Resistance has finally figured out how to speak a language that Collins understands – and she’s clearly rattled by it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report