If somebody had asked me in the 1990s to describe a typical Maine Republican, I would probably have said something like this: Fiscally conservative, but socially moderate.

If they pushed me to explain, I would have said, they’re tight with a dollar and want lower taxes, especially on business. But they want to protect the environment, and they are not particularly interested in telling people how to live their lives.

That makes them support family planning, up to and including abortion, and, more often than not, civil rights protections for people who are lesbian or gay.

Back then I would have been able to reel off a bunch of names that fit the description, starting with the governor, John McKernan, U.S. Sen. Bill Cohen and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Olympia Snowe, along with legislators like Sumner Lipman, Judy Foss, Jeff Butland, Mary Small, Phil Harriman, Joel Abromson and Peter Mills. Although he wasn’t a Republican, McKernan’s successor, Gov. Angus King, fit comfortably with that crowd.

Looking for Republicans with that profile today produces a much shorter list. It could even boil down to a single name: Sen. Susan Collins.

On Monday, Maine’s senior senator did the thing that she had been carefully foreshadowing since December, and broke with her party’s leadership on its reckless and cruel path toward taking health care away from the poor and working class to fund tax cuts for the rich.

For months, Collins had been diplomatically identifying the parts of the plan she would not support, but she withheld her final judgment until the Senate actually had a bill to consider and it had been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

When that analysis showed that an estimated 22 million people would lose their health insurance, her colleagues could not have been surprised with her response.

The only shock may have been the way she chose to deliver her message – a tweet storm, with one that concluded “I will vote no on mtp (or motion to proceed).”

Alarmists warned that she was leaving herself an out by announcing a “no” vote on a procedural matter and could come back and support the bill itself, but this is one of those rare occasions in Washington where “no” actually does mean “no.” In parliamentary terms, announcing that you will vote to stop a bill from coming forward for debate is something like a shot blocker on the basketball court pounding his chest and screaming “Boom-shakalaka!” in your face.

Her defection had an impact. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had only two votes to spare, and with four senators on the right complaining that the bill didn’t go far enough, Collins’ defection for the opposite reason made the gap too big for now. That’s why McConnell delayed a vote that had been planned for Thursday.

Collins’ solitary role tells a lot about how things have changed in the Maine Republican Party over the last generation. It also tells us a lot about Collins.

Throughout her career, she has been the steady target of harsh criticism on two fronts, with both sides saying that she is not what she claims to be.

One side says she is not really a Republican and secretly conspires with the Democrats to pass their bills or block the initiatives of true conservatives.

The other side says she’s not really a moderate, but gives lip service to the concerns of her more liberal supporters, while giving her true loyalty to her party.

But Collins is showing that they’re both wrong. She really is a Republican, constituted in a way that most Maine Republicans would have recognized before Paul LePage and Donald Trump turned it into the party of rage against immigrants and the poor.

And she really is a moderate – a moderate Republican, that is – fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

If you want America to have universal, single-payer health care (count me in), she is going to disappoint you. If you want someone to start the revolution, look elsewhere. But if you need a reasonable voice in the Republican cloakroom, she may be about all we’ve got left.

While the world changed around her, Collins has stayed true to a brand of Republicanism that’s steeped in tradition and based on a coherent view of how the government and economy should interact.

She stands her ground. It’s too bad that’s become such a lonely place.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: gregkesich