As a former Republican United States senator, and a close observer of today’s Republican Senate, including Sen. Susan Collins, I am very concerned about our children’s future.

Adolescence is always a time of anxiety, but today, many stress factors stem from burdens that older generations are placing on our children.

Perhaps the gravest long-term threat to our children’s future is the global climate crisis.

Young people understand this. They know human activities are changing the  climate.

Global warming has such a tangible impact that today’s youngest Mainers may not even experience, or benefit from, the lobster industry that has driven the state’s economy for decades.

Young people are shocked that today’s Republicans deny science and the economic impacts of the climate crisis. They know our Republican Party is not acting in their best interest.

Our children and grandchildren know that without action now, they will inherit a harsh world of crop failures, species loss and frequent extreme weather disasters.

Children are also stressed about guns. Another sector where the Senate Republicans have failed to act, even on common sense, bipartisan legislation to enable background checks — a measure that the American public supports by overwhelming margins.

Last summer, following a string of mass murders using assault weapons, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins vowed to tackle this issue.

However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, bowed to the National Rifle Association’s generous financial contributions to the Republican Party and blocked consideration of any legislation that would stem the violence.

What did Collins do after McConnell blocked her efforts to address gun violence last summer?

She promptly endorsed McConnell’s bid to remain as Majority Leader if Republicans hold the Senate in this election year.

We now live in a nation where children are afraid to go to school because of gun violence, where teachers must conduct “active shooter” drills and where some children fear gun violence at music venues, the mall . . . or just walking down the street.

Children suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is unacceptable. This anxiety is one reason youth suicide rates have reached their highest levels in two decades.

This leads to the issue of health care affordability and accessibility.

Many children see their parents working two or three jobs to provide for a safe and healthy future.

Yet, Republicans are working methodically to unravel the Affordable Care Act through a new case at the Supreme Court.

Sen. Collins first weakened Obamacare coverage when she voted in 2017 for Republican tax cuts for the rich that also repealed a provision requiring Americans to carry health insurance. She said that Republican leaders promised her the health care issue would be addressed in subsequent legislation, but then that promise was promptly ignored by those same leaders.

Republican sloganeering of “repeal and replace” can now be witnessed in the exorbitant and unexpected costs of hospitalization, drug prescriptions and other health emergencies.

This Republican piecemeal dismantling of our health care system is alarming.

Another stress for children — bullies! Children “as young as six mimicking the president’s insults and the cruel way he delivers them.”

We teach children to “love thy neighbor” and to show respect for others, but this is proving difficult in today’s society where Republicans denigrate cherished American principles of civility and respect.

With the mocking of women, or calling opponents names like “Pocahontas” or “pencil-neck,” is it any wonder that some children absorb hateful, aggressive attitudes?

Most young people these days are inclusive, with friends of every color, orientation and religion.

So how can we, Republicans of good conscience, tolerate this atmosphere of hate by our party?

Allowing this fear and hate to continue among our children is unconscionable.

As a parent and grandparent who served our country in the Senate, I am deeply disturbed about the future as long as the Senate remains controlled by today’s Republican Party.

David Durenberger served as a Republican senator from Minnesota from 1978 through 1995 and is a founding member of RepublicansforIntegrity.org, a group of former Republicans serving in the United States Senate and House of Representatives who advocate for serving the public, not partisan politics.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.