If you’re an ordinary, reasonable person looking at our lovely state, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Maine is an incredible place. After all, we have everything: mountains, forests, fields, oceans and beaches – even a few sandy ones.

If you love the outdoors, we’ve got a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities, including hunting, fishing, skiing, sailing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and more. It’s reasonable to conclude that we are all fortunate enough to live in one of the most wonderful places on Earth: It’s called “Vacationland” for a reason.

If you’re a blindly rabid partisan, though – whether the local variety or from away – you probably view Maine in a different light. Perhaps you even write off the whole state as worthless just because we occasionally vote for people you don’t like. To such people, Maine is frustratingly inconsistent: We elect conservatives, liberals and moderates from both parties, and even occasionally deign to elect independents to high office, to the horror of the political elite across the nation.

Being a completely dedicated partisan is terribly difficult in Maine because it requires one to constantly rewrite history and simply ignore reality that doesn’t fit your narrow-minded narrative. To see this in action, we need only look at the debate surrounding President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the narrative being built by liberals around it.

Yet again, the entire focus of lobbying efforts is on the vote of Republican Sen. Susan Collins, rather than independent Angus King. However, these efforts appear somewhat disjointed at times: While special-interest groups are running ads in Maine to attempt to persuade her, some of the arguments coming from liberals about her vote seem to undermine those efforts.

It’s common to see complaints from liberals that Collins isn’t really a moderate: She is simply feigning at being one in order to get political cover for going along with Trump. In order to believe this, you need to ignore recent major votes where she bucked the administration, like torpedoing the Obamacare repeal.


While doing that, you must also ignore that her willingness to cross her own party has frequently earned her the ire of conservatives in Maine, including Gov. LePage. You also must forget that she’s voted for liberals to be confirmed to the Supreme Court as well, including both of President Obama’s nominees. Indeed, you might think that she’s built a consistent political ideology throughout her career just as some sort of grand scheme to enable the administration of a man she didn’t vote for in the primaries or the general election.

To you, this explanation clearly makes much more sense than the far simpler one: that Collins carefully considers nominations and policy proposals on their individual merits, apart from the person making them.

Or, perhaps you believe that Collins’ willingness to work with Trump on areas where they agree – as she has with all previous presidents from both parties – will seriously imperil her politically in a way she never has been before. While it’s true that Trump’s polling numbers have been dismal, he’s retained the support of most Republicans – and he did better in Maine than any Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

This isn’t the first time this particular theory has been floated in regard to Collins, either: Some conservatives thought her willingness to work with Obama would get her a primary challenger in 2014, and some liberals thought that George W. Bush’s unpopularity would provide an opportunity to defeat her in 2008.

Even if you toss aside that political history, though, one political campaign in Maine this year shows Collins’ enduring popularity: Jared Golden’s candidacy for the 2nd District U.S. House seat. Whenever he’s not on TV pretending to be a lobsterman, Golden finds the time to mention that he once worked for Susan Collins. Surely, if her popularity had taken a sudden nosedive of late, one of the top Democratic candidates in the state wouldn’t be trying to use her reputation as a moderate to boost his campaign.

It’s easy to be frustrated by Sen. Collins’ willingness to lay aside partisanship and consider the concerns of all sides, but in the end we should be thankful for it. It’s far harder to take the time to make a well-informed choice than it is to instantly take a position based on ideology, as all too many of her colleagues do every day. Even when one disagrees with Collins’ particular vote, we can all rest assured that she took great care reaching that decision.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jimfossel

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