Meryl Streep will not be leading the revolution.

It’s nice to know that the multiple award-winning actress used a moment at the Golden Globe Award show this week to voice her opposition to violence, bullying and demeaning portrayals of people with disabilities.

But speaking out against the government won’t exactly get you blacklisted in today’s Hollywood, so criticizing (by inference) the president-elect is a fairly safe move for a beloved liberal. It was an occasion for some social media chatter and not much else.

Susan Collins won’t be leading the revolution either, but she did something this week that was far more subversive than Streep’s comments but didn’t draw anywhere near as much attention.

Collins introduced an amendment with four Republican senators that would delay the repeal of Obamacare for about a month, giving members of Congress more time to come up with an alternative.

It may not sound like much. Putting off a decision until early March is hardly radical when you are talking about repealing a law that is famously thousands of pages long.

But it puts everyone on notice that there are at least five Republican senators who are not comfortable with repealing the law without a replacement in hand, and only three Republican defectors would be needed to stop repeal dead in its tracks.

Collins didn’t win many liberal friends Tuesday when she introduced Sen. Jeff Sessions to the Judiciary Committee as Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general. But outrage over Sessions’ appointment should not overshadow the fact that she has launched the most effective defense of the Affordable Care Act that we are likely to see this winter. Delay may save health insurance for millions of people, and could keep the government from defunding Planned Parenthood, something that liberal lions in the Senate are only in a position to talk about.

Collins has made it clear in the past that she is no fan of Obamacare – she never voted for it and has been a consistent advocate for a more market-driven approach to health coverage – but she’s not about to turn a campaign slogan into policy either. Her concern for the 20 million Americans (and 80,000 Mainers) who got coverage because of the reform law stops her from getting sloppy with its repeal.

Which puts her in the vanguard of a revolution of sorts – call it “the checks and balances revolution.”

Ever since Trump’s election, people have compared him to a Third World dictator who would wield power any way he pleased. In response, others have said that America is different. We have institutions that would prevent even a president from grabbing too much power.

We are going to find out if that’s true, but this move by Collins and the others is encouraging.

Any delay to the ACA repeal effort is sure to make the final result better, because the more you think about the issue, the less simple it starts to look.

When you really dig into it, the ACA does a lot of things that most Americans want. After you make it illegal to deny people insurance because they are sick and allow adults under 26 to stay on a parent’s policy, you may have to keep at least some of what makes the critics so mad – like mandating that everyone has to buy a policy – to keep the markets from collapsing into chaos.

Repealing the ACA could turn into a big rebranding operation. Throw some gold paint on it, call it “Trumpcare” and move on.

The president has tremendous power to direct government, but if institutions like the Senate or the courts can stand up to him, he won’t be able to run it like he runs his businesses (into bankruptcy).

The Senate stopped Franklin Roosevelt from packing the Supreme Court in 1937. The Supreme Court forced Nixon to turn over the tapes in 1974. These institutions have been tested before, but we are going to find out if they can still flex their muscles today.

One institution that has not yet found its footing is the Democratic Party.

If A-list celebrities were the only ones allowed to vote, Hillary Clinton would be working on her inaugural address. Donald Trump couldn’t even attract Ralph and Potsie from the “Happy Days” cast and had to settle for Chachi as his celebrity endorser.

But Democrats should remember that while people like Meryl Streep and Bruce Springsteen were warming up the crowds, Trump was filling large venues with people who wanted to hear what he had to say.

Until Democrats can do that, there won’t be any alternative to the Trump agenda.

In the meantime, Collins and the other co-sponsors can do something that no Democrat can, which is slow down the Obamacare repeal and keep insurance coverage for millions of people.

That would be pretty revolutionary.

Listen to Press Herald podcasts at www.pressherald.com/podcast.

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

[email protected]

Twitter @gregkesich


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