Susan Collins is toast

Since the mockery that was Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 2018, one senator more than any other has been seen as a hypocrite, an enemy of women, and an enabler to the patriarchy. It’s 2020 now and the public has not forgotten. Susan Collins is up for reelection, and she’s toast.

I’m typically hesitant in my prognostications of elections. I like to temper my predictions with words like “probably,” “likely,” “ostensibly,” and similar. But this election seems like it’s pretty much been over since Collins gave her vote for Kavanaugh. And really, this article isn’t about Collins or her hopeless reelection campaign. I won’t even bother to talk about the polling lead that her Democratic rival Sara Gideon has over her. Really, I think it’s that pointless.

Instead, the point of this article is to draw attention to the fact that accountability can still exist in the contemporary political landscape. In the Trump post-truth era, accountability is something of a quaint notion. Yet Mainers appear to be holding Susan Collins accountable. That they don’t seem to have forgotten Collins’ dereliction of duty is striking to me. I thought that surely they’d have forgotten. But it turns out that some political actions have consequences and some politicians still have to answer to their constituents. They can’t only answer to monied interests or the Trump agenda.

The question remains: Why? Why was Susan Collins hoisted by her own petard when it seems like so few Republican politicians are? Is it something about Maine voters? Is it something about Collins’ opponent Sara Gideon? After some thought, I think the answer can be chalked up to a number of factors, but one key factor stands out among the others.

Simply put, I think it has much to do with one factor — betrayal. When voters feel betrayed, it seems like little can coax them back. I have to say that a lot of factors can go into voters feeling betrayed, but even just one misstep can upheave years of trust. Indeed, Collins is seeking reelection for a fifth term. Mainers had decades of trust in Collins and she squandered that trust to keep her seat on the Trump train. A lesson learned.

Of course, the question you’re probably asking now is whether the Democrats can invoke a sense of betrayal among Trump’s supporters. Answer: I fear not. Betrayal, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Put another way, I think it is generally difficult to convince people to see what they themselves choose not to see. Put a fact in front of a Trump voter and they see fiction. That said, this is worth further contemplation, in case any strategists are reading.

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