I was shocked to read that Sen. Susan Collins is already capitulating to Donald Trump, stating that she will support his presidential candidacy as long as he “knock(s) off the gratuitous personal insults.”

Sen. Collins’ comment suggests that her objections to Mr. Trump are merely cosmetic. If that’s so, it’s unfortunate, to say the least.

Mr. Trump is not just simply rough around the edges, as her comments suggest: He is a mean-spirited, bigoted, ignorant demagogue, who has encouraged violence – both implicitly and explicitly – more than once during this campaign. He is also a peddler of fringe conspiracy theories, including “birtherism.”

I understand we are in a two-party system, and that there is pressure on politicians to fall in line. But what we Mainers have always admired about Sen. Collins has been her willingness to work outside the system’s constraints and to think for herself.

If she is so beholden to the Republican Party that she’s willing to help Mr. Trump wrest control of, among other things, the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world (an arsenal he won’t promise not to use on our friends in Europe), then perhaps she isn’t the senator we thought she was.

Taylor Asen

Portland