It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump is leading the contest to be the Republican nominee for president. Republicans may be angry, but they aren’t stupid. After years of hearing from members of Congress and the tea party and angry conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin that government is very, very bad, the electorate is convinced. Throw the bums out! Make America great again.

The problem, of course, is that two of their bums – Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida – now want to be president.

That shadow of schadenfreude creeping into your soul, as the Grand Old Party has a grand old meltdown? Don’t fight it. You are not alone. There’s rich irony in a story about a group so enraptured by the National Rifle Association that it succumbs to a circular firing squad. But if you are an unenrolled voter in this state, a so-called “independent,” you too should be careful what you wish for. Checking out of the two-party system is not the result of extreme partisanship: It’s a root cause.

In Maine we know what it’s like having a chief executive who hates government. It’s as dysfunctional here as it is in Washington.

Cruz hates government and began his onslaught against it immediately upon arrival in the nation’s capital in 2013, when he was elected to the Senate. Single-handedly he shut it down, causing significant disruption for no purpose other than to grandstand his disdain for the democratically elected president’s health care law.

Shortly thereafter, Cruz made a mockery of democracy by reading “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor in order to filibuster a bipartisan spending bill, and recently he again tried to shut down government over the funding of Planned Parenthood. Not a single Senate colleague is supporting Cruz’s candidacy for president, and he wears their contempt and as badges of honor.

Rubio loathes government too, but he has friends. One friend, for example, made a very bad real estate investment with him in Florida, while another lent an ear about the luxury speedboat Rubio purchased when he could least afford it. Friends have loaned him money and have given him token jobs.

One friend reported to the Washington Post that the junior senator from Florida “hates” his job in Washington, and it shows. Rubio has missed over 85 percent of votes during his Senate career, while collecting a $175,000 paycheck from taxpayers.

But in neglecting his job responsibilities, Rubio is following the lead of Mitch McConnell, who urged the majority of Republicans in his caucus to blatantly ignore the unambiguous duty imposed on them to do so by the U.S. Constitution and consider a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Americans expect people they elect to public office to work hard and do their job. It’s no wonder Rubio and Cruz are not being rewarded in the presidential primary for failing to show up on one hand or be a hellion on the other.

It should be noted that Maine’s own Republican senator, Susan Collins, enjoys a favorability rating of 78 percent and was re-elected by a landslide vote of almost 70 percent in 2014. Her perfect voting attendance record and strong work ethic have something to do with it. She does her job well and is one of only two Republicans in Washington willing to consider President Obama’s nominee for the high court.

Voters are rightfully mad because most of the people they’ve elected are not doing their jobs, but it’s a two-way street. People who don’t vote can hardly complain about who gets elected – and that leads me to the swath of people in Maine who are unenrolled and sitting on the sidelines wringing their hands about partisanship.

If you are not caucusing next weekend, then you are a large part of the problem with politics today. Extremists have taken over segments of our government because the majority of voters in this country – so-called “independents” – sit out the nominating process. If you want government to work, then do your job and vote. We reap what we sow.

And please, spare us the whining about a lack of a third party until you can demonstrate you have tried to create one or can describe how it might be different. Looking for a party that doesn’t stand for anything in particular? Maybe someday there will be a big, groovy nondenominational “Independent Party” for aspiring iconoclasts, but until then we have a system in place to select candidates that’s free and easy.

Eighty percent of success is showing up, according to Woody Allen, and nearly 40 percent of Maine voters are not showing up. Until we change the system to have open primaries or establish another party, the task at hand is to caucus for the candidate who best reflects your values. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Why not you?

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and a former state senator. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: dillesquire