My mother spent a lifetime trying to teach me to stand for what is right. “You do the right thing because it is the right thing,” she would tell me, “no matter how hard it might be. You will be better and stronger for having done so.”
I became a Republican in part because those values seemed inherently aligned with the Republican Party as I understood it: a voice for equality, freedom and constitutional conservatism, with a rich history of fighting for what was right because it was right.
I ran for Congress and became the Republican nominee running on these beliefs. I was elected to two terms as the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican party advancing these values. I have spent the past 20 years engaged in the fight for these foundational American principles — as a Republican.
Support for dismantling democracy
For the past five years, however, I have found myself fighting for what I thought were the principles of my party in the face of the ever-deteriorating character and integrity of party representatives. They have revealed their impotence and decrepitude as they have fallen, one by one, at the feet of the most corrupt, destructive and unstable president in the history of our country.
It seems there is no assault on human dignity too great, no attack on democracy too extreme, to inspire the Republican weaklings in Congress to speak up or stand up to President Donald Trump.
With very few exceptions, elected Republicans have been silent in the face of this president's most contemptuous and at times barbaric actions. They have defended and excused his impeachable betrayals.
Worst of all, they have openly supported his attempts to sabotage the Constitution and dismantle democracy as we know it. Trump’s post-election attempts to invalidate millions of legitimate votes through an abuse of the judicial system, culminating in a Texas lawsuit to block Joe Biden wins in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, amount to no less than an attempted coup. And they have been openly encouraged and supported by every level of the Republican Party.
I have been asked thousands of times how I can continue to call myself a Republican in the face of such dangerous, anti-American actions.
The truth is, I cannot.
Those ideals that I have spent so many years fighting for — liberty, conservatism, constitutional leadership — are no longer the principles of the Republican Party. Never did I believe I would see the day when the party of Abraham Lincoln would try to invalidate millions of legitimate ballots and enlist in an effort to overthrow the lawful government of the United States
Yet, that is where we are today. In the weeks since the election, the GOP has ransacked the Constitution. Republicans have demeaned our republic with their attempts to steal an election as if we were no more than a third-rate banana republic. They have humiliated themselves and disgraced our great nation.
As I watched the Republican Party and its elected leaders across the country coalesce around the most unpatriotic assault on our elections that I have ever seen, it became clear to me that the party of Lincoln is no more.
Just as Abraham Lincoln understood that America could not continue to stand with so destructive an institution as slavery, so have I come to understand that America and today’s Republican Party cannot coexist.
Embrace of Trump coup was too much
The GOP has become so destructive an institution — by embracing racism, accepting hatred and cruelty as the foundation for policy, and by advocating for and advancing the overthrow of democracy in America — that it has become wholly incompatible with the constitutional pillars of our country.
I have spent my entire life trying to meet the ethical measure of my mother’s lessons. I have spent my years in the Republican Party trying to meet Lincoln’s standard of "right makes might." And I have spent the past 30 years as a mom myself, trying each day to teach my children by my actions that we do the right thing, no matter how hard, because it is right.
On Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the founding of The Lincoln Project, I will go to my town hall and rescind my registration as a Republican and register as an independent. I do so not because of Trump, but because of everyone else in the party who openly embraces Trumpism, because of the party’s perfidious leaders, and a platform that advocates against equal rights for all.
Leaving the Republican party is no small thing for me. It is not an easy decision. I am sure that there are many reading right now who are thinking “good riddance" — and probably much worse. But I make this choice in peace, on my own terms.
Ex-GOP state chair for Biden: My fellow Republicans, Trump does not deserve your loyalty
I remain committed to the fight for conservatism, constitutionalism and individual liberty. My belief in the promise that is America remains strong. America must remain a beacon of hope for freedom and liberty for all. Under Republican leadership, that beacon has been dangerously dimmed.
More importantly, however, I am reminded in this moment that freedom and democracy are fragile concepts. They are not tangible objects to be protected by tucking them in the back of a drawer. Each one of us as Americans must be ever engaged in their preservation.
As long as today’s Republican party holds sway over our nation, freedom and democracy are at risk, and every one of us must set aside our partisan differences and tribal instincts in their defense.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why I'm leaving the Republican Party: Former New Hampshire GOP chair