In an editorial in The Washington Post making the case for why the Maine senator cannot support Trump, his more controversial policies—like the wall or the Muslim ban—are not mentioned. Instead, Collins argues that Trump is unstable, unfit for the office, and, most of all, that he’s a dick. “My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics,” she writes. “Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities.” Collins then cites three examples of Trump being a jerk: His mocking of disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, his insistence that the American judge overseeing a Trump University lawsuit can’t be impartial because he is “Mexican,” and his feud with the Khan family, whose son died in Iraq.
In keeping with much of the opposition to Trump from within the GOP, Collins stresses that Trump is not a Republican. “I revere the history of my party, most particularly the value it has always placed on the worth and dignity of the individual, and I will continue to work across the country for Republican candidates,” she writes. “It is because of Mr. Trump’s inability and unwillingness to honor that legacy that I am unable to support his candidacy.”
That would be a more compelling argument if Collins et al were more willing to discuss policy, instead of relying solely on temperament. Until that happens, the argument is based solely on aesthetics: The problem with Trump is not what he proposes, but how he proposes it. While Collins has a bipartisan reputation in the Senate, until she and her GOP colleagues reckon with the toxic proposals that appeal to the party’s base, disavowals like this mean little.