Susan, Was It Worth It?
Sitting in and standing up for what's right. Photo by Sarah Bigney
The hundreds of protesters in D.C. Tuesday chanting "Kill this bill, don't kill us"at GOP lawmakers who passed the scourge of a tax scam have myriad kindred spirits here in Maine, where voters - many older and with much at stake - have long supported health care access and last month became the first state to pass a ballot initiative to expand Medicare. People are justifiably aiming their fury at perennially coy Susan Collins, who's earned a reputation as a "moderate" and "independent" Republican by occasionally bending to "constant and intense pressure from her constituents” to do the right thing - most notably, by voting against the latest assault on Obamacare.
Now, by providing a key vote for tax cuts to billionaires and corporations unfathomably far away on every level from the reality of most Mainers' lives, she has been deemed "beneath contempt." Adding insult to injury, she based her vote in part on health care compromises and economic claims that turn out to be specious: Two headlines on her vote describe "promises written in vanishing ink" and ask, "What in the world was Susan Collins thinking?" The result, says one fed-up resident: "This betrayal will not be forgotten." Evidently.
Mainers, never shy about speaking their minds, have continued to vent their fury. Within an hour of the vote, protesters had gathered at her Portland office. Activists prepared to turn their backs to Collins - in contrast to the applause she won for her health care vote - if she arrived at Bangor's airport because "she turned her back on Maine." (She ended up staying in D.C.) Five protesters representing progressive groups, including a nurse, electrician, veteran and disability rights activist, were arrested for trespassing Monday evening after sitting in at her Bangor office and live-streaming the action. Letters called for her defeat in the next election. Another rally is scheduled for Portland on Wednesday.
“This bill is quite literally stealing our future,” said Maine AFL-CIO's Matt Schlobohm. “It’s locking in inequality and a rigged economy for decades to come. We all need to (disrupt) business as usual and say this bill cannot and will not pass on our watch.” Online, thousands echoed him. Collins' tweets repeating bogus GOP trickle-down talking points drew 201 likes and 4,700 rebuttals; her Facebook post got 875 likes, 1,286 sad faces, 1,787 angry faces and 12,350 rebuttals. (John McCain got the same treatment: When he asked for more Twitter followers, he quickly lost 27,000, with one posting, "I don't follow him but I followed him just to unfollow him.") Tuesday, when Collins tried to move past the uproar with a warm fuzzy post about a woman who helps sick kids in the running for @CNNHeroes, people called it "a stunningly heartless (attempt) to seem caring." "I no longer care what else you have to say," wrote one, and "Oh hey, look. It's the (Senator) responsible for tens of thousands people dying for a TAX CUT FOR THE RICH." "There are consequences to voting party over country," warned another. His username lays them out: "FLIP ."