When I came of age politically in the mid-1970s, the nation was recovering from the Watergate scandal that shook confidence in our constitutional system of government.
Fortunately, some key Republican Members of Congress put our country above their party.
Republican Senator Howard Baker (Tenn.) and House Members Lawrence Hogan (Md.), Hamilton Fish (N.Y.) and William Cohen (Maine) considered the incriminating evidence against then-President Nixon and called for Nixon’s impeachment.
The integrity and political courage of these Republicans 46 years ago helped save our constitutional democracy — and the Republican Party itself.
When I first ran for Congress in 1978, the integrity of these Republicans in Congress reinforced my own decision to run as a Republican, as I always believed in key Republican principles such as fiscal responsibility, free trade, the rule of law, states’ rights, family values, individual rights, environmental protection.
When I was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1980, I set about to put these Republican principles into action.
While I had no experience in government, I knew the difference between right and wrong.
Today, almost every Republican in the United States Senate has lost his or her sense of integrity.
Republican senators have, in effect, sold their souls.
For example, Montana Senator Steve Daines has become a meek enabler of the corruption, abuse of power and uncaring attitude that characterize today’s Republicans.
In particular, I am offended by how Daines opposes affordable healthcare insurance coverage — in the middle of a pandemic.
As a cancer survivor, I know the importance of health insurance.
I’m offended that Daines wants to rob this peace of mind from those who rely on the Affordable Care Act or those who lose their jobs and employer-provided health benefits.
Not only do 45,000 Montanans rely on ACA for healthcare coverage, but average monthly premium costs went down in Montana by about 13 percent this year!
This is a healthcare success story, yet Steve Daines votes to repeal ACA with absolutely no “repeal and replace” plan in mind!
Daines supports Trump’s relentless efforts at the Supreme Court to kill ACA, along with its critical protections against pre-existing conditions. A decision on the Trump case to kill ACA is due after the election, so voter beware!
In addition, Steve Daines defends negligence in the federal government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 125,000 Americans and shows little sign of slowing down even though other countries have managed to bring it largely under control.
• Why is NOT wearing a mask an issue of “freedom?” Why is this common-sense precaution even a partisan issue?
Now, I am most distressed that Steve Daines was silent when news broke that Russia was paying bounties to Afghan Taliban fighters to hunt and kill American soldiers! Was Daines waiting for his “talking points” from Donald Trump?
As a member of the United States Senate, Daines should be defending America’s national security, American soldiers’ lives and Montana’s interests.
Instead, Steve Daines is too busy making excuses for Trump.
Despite any claims Daines may make about bipartisanship, we know he votes for Trump’s agenda 86 percent of the time.
Where did Steve Daines’ integrity go?
As a member of Republicans for Integrity, I long for a return to the days when Republicans put country over party, defending our nation against threats to our constitutional democracy, whether these threats come from the president or from foreign nations — or both.
The Republican Party will need to live in the electoral wilderness until its leaders can regain integrity and return to the principles that attracted so many of us to the party in years past.
Claudine Schneider is a Republican former congresswoman and is a founding member of Republicans for Integrity, which brings together Republican former Members of Congress who put “country before party.” She works with various national, non-partisan, watchdog organizations and was one of the founding members of www.VoteSmart.org.
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