BONNIE GREER: The holiday state of Maine could give the United States more than a summer break from Trump
PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 July 2019
A re-elected Trump could be brought straight back down, says BONNIE GREER, and the New England state could lead the way.
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Maine is known as the Vacation State. That is what comes to mind for most Americans, maybe most people worldwide, when they think of that small New England state bordering on the Atlantic: Holiday.
A red state, its brand of Republican Party politics seems benign, almost liberal. A kind of throwback to that 1960s Nelson Rockefeller east coast country club cool. Maine feels Ronald Reagan, laid-back, that 'we're all Americans' kind of GOP. Something almost feels prehistoric.
Part of Forrest Gump was filmed in Maine, the lighthouse bit when he is running to the Atlantic Ocean. The location used was the Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde.
No, I have never heard of the lighthouse, nor of Port Clyde, which grew in the 19th century as a centre of the timber, shipbuilding and fish canning industries. In the 20th century, the area became a kind of haven for writers and artists, fleeing the scorching heat of New York City summers.
The celebrated American painter Andrew Wyeth painted the iconic Christina's World at his summer place in Port Clyde. Maybe in looking at that painting, it is easy to get a sense of what Maine is in the minds of most Americans: a kind of aspiration of rural, northern, Protestant abundance. Equanimity, too, and longing for some ideal. That ideal is the American Story: one of freedom to be who you are and what you are as long as you live in peace.
Donald Trump bust this myth wide open by standing aside for 13 seconds while a crowd bayed "send her back", their chants directed at Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, the Minnesotan Democrat congresswoman.
She is the first naturalised citizen from the continent of Africa elected to the House, the first non-white woman elected from her state, and one of the first Muslim women, along with Rashida Tlaib, to become a congresswoman.
That this happened, and was allowed to happen, in front of a Republican president has to be one more disturbance in the Forrest Gump world of GOP Maine.
I have never heard the music of one of the state's most famous bands, Cruel Hand. But with its name, and one of its albums, The Negatives, its time might be right now.
Like American conservatism itself, Maine senator Susan Collins - once the GOP politician that the left loved - may be in trouble in next year's senate race. And if she is in trouble, then the razor-thin majority in the United States that the Republicans hold, could be in trouble.
At the elections next year, if the Republicans lose their majority there, if the Democrats hold on to the House and if Donald Trump is re-elected, one thing is pretty certain: It could be 'Don Voyage' for Donald J. Trump. And Maine would have helped to do it.
Susan Collins - along with her Republican counterpart, Lisa Murkowski, the senator from Alaska - is pro-choice. Together they have been the Republican voices in defence of the Supreme Court decision that abortion is legal under the 14th amendment of the constitution, which allows every American the power over their own bodies.
Collins was seen as the crucial swing vote that would have kept Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's controversial nominee, off the Supreme Court bench, and a job for life.
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Collins became the most sought-after senator in Washington, everyone wanted her point of view. Just to see her. She was everywhere.
During Kavanaugh's senate confirmation hearings, women had high hopes that Collins would end the farce and reject him.
But there were always the rumblings in the background, and they had to do with the fact that Collins' senate seat was up for re-election.
Nevertheless, she did not smear Christine Blasey-Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, like Trump did. She did not call her supporters "evil people" like Trump did. She did not make Blasey-Ford seem deranged like Trump did.
But Collins held on to the 'presumption of innocence' in relation to Kavanaugh, and, to some, started to sound a little like The Donald himself in describing some of the allegations against him - though not those of Blasey-Ford - as "outlandish".
Her critics say that Collins could have demanded further investigations - she is, after all, the dean (longest serving) of women senators. Some have accused her of following New York Times columnist Bret Stephens' admonition: "uncorroborated plus uncorroborated plus largely uncorroborated is not the accumulation of questions, much less of evidence. It is the duplication of hearsay". Collins could have even voted, as Murkowski did, 'present' (a quirky senate procedure which involved her 'pairing' with an absent senator, enabling her to effectively vote 'no'). But she did not.
Now Collins' approval rating is dropping like a stone and she is off the radar of women's support groups and others who thought that she might be a beacon, a tiny light in the darkness. Maybe a bit like that lighthouse in Port Clyde.
Going into the Midterms last year, the Republicans held 51 seats, the Democrats 74. The Democrats had to defend 26 seats; 10 of those seats were in Trump states. The Republicans only had to defend nine.
The Democrats lost two seats and now have only 47. The Republicans gained two seats and now have 53 - the majority. This enables them to carry out their 'advise and consent' function, as Trump wishes - if he bothered to bring any of his officials before the senate to be confirmed (his government now is largely made up of 'acting' officials).
Also up for election next year is senator Cory Gardner, in Colorado, a state that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. In the last presidential election, not a single state went one way in the presidential and the other way in the senate race.
Donald Trump has a net approval rating of -14 in Maine. Added to the fact that he cannot seem to get above 45% nationally - which is unheard of - what could happen is this: The Democrats take Murkowski and Garner's seats and hold on to Doug Jones' in Alabama.
And the GOP will be in trouble. They will not be able to afford one wavering vote, one loss, if the inevitable impeachment resolution is passed in a Democrat-controlled House and arrives at the senate.
If the presidential election turns out to be as toxic and damaging as it looks like it may be, and Trump further divides the country, the moderate Republicans looking at five years or less on the job, may decide to convict and remove the 45th president of the United States.
It is the senate that has this power, not the House.
The possible second term of Donald Trump could be very brief. And tranquil Maine, the Holiday State, may help give the beleaguered United States of America a real break. One that will last longer than a summer.
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