Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine is surrounded by reporters as she heads to the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017, while the Republican majority in Congress remains stymied by their inability to fulfill their political promise to repeal and replace "Obamacare" because of opposition and wavering within the GOP ranks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A handful of Republican senators showed immense courage and wisdom in the wee hours Friday by stopping the partisan train wreck speeding toward the country’s ailing healthcare system.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner was not one of them.

Thanks to the bravery of GOP senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and John McCain, the so-called “skinny repeal” of Obamacare failed as the three lawmakers joined 48 Democrats and independents to kill the ill-conceived bill.

The measure was a self-describe disaster even by the Republicans who pushed to approve it. That alone, speaks to the sickness that has overcome Washington and our system of government. The hope of Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Ted Cruz was to pass any bill at all, no matter how repulsive or dangerous, and move it to the House to create something Republicans liked better.

McCain, Murkowski and Collins called the repugnant plan for what it is, crap. They reminded senators and the public that there is nothing now to prevent the House and Senate from collaborating on a plan to improve the terminally ill American healthcare system. The system of committees, amendments and hearings has serve the country for more than 200 years.

It’s telling that these three courageous Republican senators were not only vilified by their peers and President Donald Trump, but that their clear message was drown out by the same political spin that bodes ill for all of America.

The truth is, every expert in the industry said that what the GOP is proposing will only make the healthcare crisis worse for everyone in the country, and an overwhelming number of Americans didn’t want Republicans to do it.

Cruz later went on to warn fellow Republicans that there could be serious political backlash for the GOP since they failed to “repeal” Obamacare, as they’ve promised to do for three election cycles. Cruz and so many Republicans simply don’t get that Americans don’t care what mechanism Congress uses to fix the problem, they just want access to affordable healthcare. They want what drove Congress and President Barack Obama to create the Affordable Care Act in the first place.

It’s spiteful Republicans that are hung up on “repeal” — not the public.

Cruz is right for the wrong reasons. There most certainly will be a backlash from voters for Republicans pitching plans that are far worse than Obamacare and then trying to pretend they’re not.

The backlash here in Colorado against Gardner is heartily warranted even though his behavior is hardly a surprise.

In The Aurora Sentinel’s 2014 endorsement against Gardner for the job he now holds, the reasons why he was wrong for the job then played out during the last few weeks and early Friday morning as the congressional healthcare drama came to a close.

“Make no mistake, Congressman Gardner is not a credible candidate for the Senate seat,” the Sentinel pointed out in its 2014 endorsement. “His campaign has been decimated by deceits and distractions. It’s political bait-and-switch at its worse, and Colorado voters can easily see through it.”

That’s what Coloradans got from Gardner on this issue. Deceit and bait-and-switch. Gardner promised to work to protect the state’s critical Medicaid system from Republican Trumpcare plans, and then he voted for these plans instead. He was coy in pretending to live up to his promise to push back against his own party when it hurt Colorado’s interests and instead joined the far-right political frenzy, putting his partisan political interests above those of the his state and his country.

Gardner this week showed himself to be everything the Sentinel warned he would be in Congress: cunning and bogus. He not only was willing to sell out the urban poor and middle class struggling heavily with the cost of increasingly expensive and useless health insurance policies, he was willing to sell out his own rural roots and neighbors. Every study or analysis showed that rural hospitals in Colorado and across the country would fail under GOP proposed cuts to Medicaid.

It’s time for Gardner and his ilk to push away from the elements of their party who are so vindictive and reckless and honestly moved toward the middle to find workable, bipartisan solutions to the problems of Obamacare.

It’s time for Democrats to accept that the solutions may require Republicans to be allowed to “repeal” Obamacare and replace it with something very much like it so they can save political face. At this point, Americans don’t care about the politics of this quagmire, they just want affordable healthcare and for Congress to solve this so lawmakers can work the country’s other mounting problems.