First we have Senator Susan Collins disgracing herself with her overt support of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of The United States, despite his 30 year history of racial insensitivity, bias towards immigrants, his lack of respect for the rule of law, women’s rights, civil rights and LGBT rights. Apparently that was not debasing enough for the good Senator. For reasons known only to her, Senator Collins joined her republican colleagues in last evenings Senate “vote-a-rama” to adopt a budget plan that would destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Her vote was cast despite her previous position that republicans should not consider repealing the ACA until they could offer a replacement plan. Despite also the fact that if republicans had been serious about the health of the American people, they would not have repeatedly refused time and time again over the last 7 years to offer any type of plan or make any efforts to improve a much needed program. Never mind still, the fact that the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities estimates that 95,000 Mainers and 20 million Americans who rely on this valuable program could lose their health insurance. Many of these non-privileged people will be thrown into immediate bankruptcy.
Our political system is based on the presumption that political figures are reasonably responsive to their constituents. One cannot show different faces to different constituents, one face to those who elected them during daylight hours, and the other face to those who stroke their ego’s when the sun goes down. Senator Collins, and far too many republican public officials, has allowed their judgments to be befuddled by conflicting pressures with their character eroded by selling out to their party over the best interests of their constituents and the American people. This however, doesn’t seem to bother them in the least.
When representing people who elected you, this granted privilege of power should be neutral at the least, and tilted to those who elected them at its best. It becomes necessary to advance that power towards the moral framework that permits us to judge the purpose of good over bad. Constituents cannot support an elected representative leader who betrays the common good in the interest of personal aggrandizement. Partisanship that reflects no commitment to the common good is partisanship gone berserk.
Unfortunately, a high proportion of political leaders in our society are rewarded for their single minded pursuit of their own group interests. They are rewarded, not for compromising, but for participating in the battle in order not to become inferior in the eyes of their God-like leaders and colleagues. This should not be the role of responsible elected officials. That role should be one of functioning in the framework of our representative institutions to accomplish the mediating and brokering necessary to reconcile the diverse views and needs of the people. The concept of the reality of community should not be so easily cast aside. First-hand contact with reality should remind them of their original purposes.
People want to believe that their lives have meaning. They want reassurance. It is the reckless and uncaring representative who violates these expected cultural norms of their constituents.
As citizens and constituents, we have a sterner duty. The simple rule is: Hold power accountable. The prime instrument of political accountability is the electoral process. Elected officials must be attentive to and responsive to their constituents needs. They must not allow the hopes and dreams of the citizenry to remain dormant volcanoes of distressed emotions. When the eruption of these emotions eventually surfaces and spews its hot lava, Senator Collins and her many vindictive and irresponsible colleagues are sure to get burned.