Throughout Susan Collins' 21-year career as a U.S. senator, the Maine Republican has faced criticism from both sides of the aisle, but has always come out with her head held high and her principles intact.
In my mind, Sen. Collins represents how our legislators should act, with a sense of thoughtfulness, fairness, and always remembering their duty to the people they represent.
We saw Collins remarkable attributes in the recent battle to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.
Collins principled decision to confirm angered many but resulted in derision, hate mail, and a multimillion dollar fund to finance her opponent.
She was cheered by Republicans and the president, but I don't believe she voted to win GOP support.
She made the vote because it was the right thing to do.
But just like the iconic scene in “Friday Night Lights,” she approached her task with “clear eyes, full heart,” and proved herself a courageous champion for due process.
Newt Gingrich said she was a “profile in courage.”
Collins' state, Maine, is solid Blue. She probably lost votes by supporting Kavanaugh, but she did so because she believes in the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and due process.
In a magnificent and well-reasoned 44-minute floor speech, Collins announced that she intended to cast what would become the deciding vote to send the former circuit court judge to the high court.
The final tally to confirm was 51-49. Had Collins voted against confirmation, she would likely have taken Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., with her, giving it 49-51 loss.
The vote was that close; her decision was that important.
Manchin, lacking Collins' courage, would only vote to confirm if he wasn't the decider. He voted after she cast her vote.
The Maine Republican was made of tougher stuff.
Today, her political future hangs in the balance.
By the time Collins took to the Senate floor in Kavanaugh's defense, she knew that several left-wing groups had already established a CrowdSource account that to fund her 2020 reelection opponent -- whoever it may be – if she voted in favor of Kavanaugh.
Newsmax broke the story on this new type of political extortion, which comes in the form of a bribe in reverse: If you vote the way I want, I won't pay your opponent a great sum of money!
Although the fund had accumulated well over $1 million when she announced her decision, Collins didn't waver from what she believed was the right course.
She told Newsmax, “I consider this quid pro quo fundraising to be the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh.”
She added, “If I vote against him, the money is refunded to the donors. If I vote for him, the money is given to my opponent for the 2020 race.”
The fund has nearly reached its $4 million goal. Most recently, a letter containing a suspicious substance was delivered to her home.
Collins has nurtured a reputation for bipartisanship and reaches across the aisle when she believes the occasion calls for it.
Principle over party has been her creed and driving force.
One of the issues prompting protests against Kavanaugh centered on abortion.
Kavanaugh, a practicing Catholic who is active in parish ministries, is unabashedly pro-life.
Collins, a strong, principled lawmaker with a passion for a women's rights, is just as firmly pro-choice.
It was the classic case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object — something had to give. The decider for Collins was what she discovered by performing her senatorial duties: She investigated, she researched, she sought answers to probing questions.
It was hard work but that's what her constituents have learned to expect of her — it's what they sent her to Washington to do.
Although Collins isn't trained as a lawyer, she gave an argument in the Senate that was deliberate, full of substance, and delivered with a resolve that would make any Perry Mason fan proud.
“We have come to the conclusion of a confirmation process that has become so dysfunctional it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion.”
When all else failed to bring Kavanaugh's confirmation to a halt, his detractors charged him with 30-plus-year-old 11th-hour allegations that were salacious, uncorroborated, unproven, and denied by the very witnesses cited by the accusers.
Although the mud stuck for some, Collins looked to the process and the facts.
She observed, “Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years,” and added, “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
Mainstream media outlets and Senate Democrats alike professed that presumption of guilt should be the standard, and that the nominee should prove his innocence. Collins wasn't buying any of it.
“It is a case of people bearing ill will toward those who disagree with them. In our intense focus on our differences, we have forgotten the common values that bind us together as Americans.”
Collins has often been attacked by her own party for her bipartisanship -- for her readiness to reach across the aisle to find common ground.
By taking a courageous stand, she has created a template for the president and the next Congress to use on creating a new era of bipartisanship.
The last line of the “clear eyes, full heart” mantra is “can't lose.” So long as the electorate sends people like Susan Collins to the Senate, America can't lose.
Michael Dorstewitz contributed to this column.
Christopher Ruddy is CEO of Newsmax, one of the country's leading conservative news outlets. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
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