September 22, 2017
Brian Duff, Ph.D., chair and associate professor in the Department of Political Science, wrote a “Maine Voices” piece that was published in the September 21 issue of the Portland Press Herald. Duff argued that it would be advantageous to Senator Susan Collins’ political reputation to admit mistakes that she has made in previous votes.
Duff praised Collins for speaking out last month against the health care bill that aimed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), but he questioned why she did not admit to error in voting against the Affordable Care Act in the first place. Noting that Collins was undoubtedly pressured by fellow Republicans who wanted to say that Obamacare “passed without a single Republican vote,” Duff pointed out that Collins, by “helping [to] provide opponents of Obamacare with one of their favorite talking points,” effectively “helped endanger the very law she rescued last month.”
“In these different political times, a simple and clear statement that ‘I was wrong, we Republicans were wrong – Obamacare was a step in the right direction’ would go a long way in helping Obamacare survive the next wave of efforts to undermine or repeal it,” Duff wrote.
Duff expressed that if Collins would take a similar approach of voting contrary to how she voted in the past on key issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal, she could, “as her defense of Obamacare did, change the national debate and avoid a move that could trigger a crisis.”
“Partisan loyalty held sway for Collins over the eight years of the Obama administration, in part because partisan votes could ‘send a message’ without having tangible outcomes,” explained Duff. “In the recent Obamacare debates she was right to think differently now that her words and her vote are so much more consequential. It has enhanced her stature and reputation. She should keep it up.”
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