YORK — The criticism of Sen. Susan Collins needs to stop.

Yes, Susan Collins cast the deciding vote that allowed the nomination of Betsy DeVos for education secretary to move to the floor. Then she voted against DeVos – but it didn’t matter because she knew DeVos had the numbers for confirmation.

Yes, Susan Collins voted for a tax bill that is likely to devastate the majority of her constituents, but is favored by corporations and wealthy individuals, including her own Republican donors.

Yes, Susan Collins has repeatedly waved the “moderate” banner and has touted loyalty to her constituents, but when it has mattered she has been a partisan player and has consistently been a proponent of President Trump’s agenda.

And in so doing, she has effectively thumbed her nose at the middle class.

But still, criticism of her is misplaced.

Susan Collins, in her first campaign for national office, ran on the promise of being a one-term senator. In three years, she will be running for a fourth term.

Undoubtedly, in 1996, Susan Collins had every intention of keeping her promise. Then she became intoxicated – intoxicated by the money and adulation that come with election to political office. And in this way, she is exactly like nearly every other establishment politician. The “heroes” on the other side of the aisle are no different and are no better in regard to their potential to resist the seductive powers of money and fame or in their ambition to stay in office.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and many others have walked the same fine line. Consciously or unconsciously, subtly or overtly, they eventually undermine the very same values they once claimed to support.

The U.S. remains embroiled in multiple conflicts around the world. In 2016 alone, the U.S. dropped 26,000 bombs on seven different countries. Our foreign policy over the past 20 years seems to be one intent on maintaining a destabilized Middle East.

The military-industrial complex typically spends over $164 million every year on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; during the average election cycle, it spends over $19 million.

The federal government loosened regulations on Wall Street over the past 30 years. Over 5 million families lost their homes in the housing crisis and recession brought on by deregulation, the analytics firm CoreLogic concluded. This financial disaster was followed by a bailout costing taxpayers $700 billion.

In 2012, the securities and investment industry became the single largest source of campaign contributions when it doled out $283 million in an effort to get chosen candidates elected.

The U.S. has been slow to embrace renewable energy. We continue to promote oil exploration and extraction as well as fracking. Soon, millions of acres of our national parks, forests and other protected lands could be the site of further exploration and extraction, The Washington Post recently reported.

While China has become the global leader in researching and developing renewable sources of energy, the U.S government stands alone in the world as one that undermines efforts by both the world community and by our own local and state governments to mitigate the effects of climate change.

For the past 10 years, the oil and gas industry has averaged well over $100 million a year spent on lobbying.

And we stand alone among developed countries in considering health care as a privilege and not a right. The U.S. spends over twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries, and by most objective analyses provides far inferior health care. Over 25 million citizens do not have access to health care coverage. Tens of millions more have coverage that is woefully inadequate.

Nearly a million families, many who have coverage, every year declare bankruptcy as a direct result of health care expenses, according to public health scholar Stephanie Woolhandler.

In 2016, the health care lobby spent $512 million, while another $280 million was contributed by the industry to candidates for federal office.

These four industries, as well as many others, pump obscene amounts of money into both lobbying and campaign contributions every year, money that unquestionably influences our elected officials and has a direct effect on how they vote.

So please, let’s stop scapegoating Susan Collins. She is a product of the system. Let’s talk about changes that would be meaningful – changes like campaign finance reform, term limits and ranked-choice voting.

Until these types of changes occur, we will have the same frustrations and the same discussions, regardless of the party in power.