Alan Caron: The nation needs Susan Collins

If you’re traveling these days, and people discover that you’re from Maine, don’t be surprised if they want to talk about Susan Collins and Angus King. As I found in recent travels, they’ll most likely want to express their gratitude to the people of Maine for electing two of the country’s most thoughtful senators to Congress.

Maine has long had a reputation for sending people of distinction and intelligence to Washington. Now, that reputation has been rekindled. And it couldn’t come at a better time for the country, given that Washington looks increasingly like a place where the inmates have overtaken the asylum.

Both of our senators earned the respect of many, in recent weeks, as they stood up against partisan-fueled attempts to throw millions of Americans off their health care, and drive up rates for everyone else. But Collins’ vote was far more difficult and courageous, as a lifelong and devoted Republican. It was also, without a doubt, her Margaret Chase Smith moment of courage in the face of partisan madness. And it may not be her last.

Susan Collins is at the height of her influence and power in Washington. It is a power that can grow even further, if she continues to lead an emerging bloc of moderate senators, from both parties, who are working together to fix the nation’s health care system.

With the Congress so closely divided between Republicans and Democrats, a small, bipartisan group of moderates can become a bridge between the parties, put a stop to reckless ideas and promote new, common sense solutions to the country’s problems. Nobody is better prepared to lead such a group than Collins.

Over the next month or so, Collins will confront one of the most difficult decisions of her career, as she ponders whether to remain in the Senate or run for governor. In the Senate, she has a growing opportunity to help Maine and the nation. She may even become, in the foreseeable future, the chairwoman of one of the Senate’s more powerful…

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