The Trump cult must go the way of the dinosaur.

The insurrectionists of January 6, 2021, managed to accomplish one thing; they fired the shot that destroyed what remained of the once-Grand Old Party. Between the actions of the rioters and the complicity of many Republican members of Congress, the hypocrisy of the right in this country has now been placed on full and undeniable display.

The Republican Party has spent most of my life doing little more than pandering to minority factions and ideologies on the far right from courting the racist Southern Democrats in my childhood to pandering to religious fundamentalists triggered by abortion and homophobia, the GOP has evolved into a party united by its bigotry and anyone who denies that fact is either willfully ignorant or woefully stupid.

Republican lawmakers do not fear Trump, they fear losing his voters, a cult encompassing people who embrace a host of repulsive ideas including systemic racism, anti-Semitism, fascism, outrageous conspiracy theories, and above all violence in the face of social progress, but the core of the Trump cult is only one faction among several that make up the Republican Party today.

There was a time in our past when both major political parties were populated by progressive and conservative members. Elected officials had to work together across party lines, building bipartisan coalitions to get legislation passed, but that balance didn’t just erode over the last fifty years; our government was hijacked.

Yesterday’s vote to acquit the former president of the charge of inciting insurrection, despite overwhelming evidence that he spent months organizing and whipping up that mob, was a sign that forty-three United States Senators and more than a few members of the House of Representatives believe that the hate, division, and violence embraced by Trump and his most rabid followers is the future of the Republican Party. That’s their bet, and we must prove them wrong.

Now is the time for all patriotic Republican lawmakers to abandon their party. Walk away. Leave it to those who place party loyalty above their allegiance to our constitution and let them rot inside the hollow corpse of the Grand Old Party. Many former Republicans have already joined the Democratic Party, and we welcome them.

The best outcome this impeachment might produce would be a near-death experience for the GOP. Everyone, Republican, Democrat, and independent alike; every true patriot and lover of democracy should shun every public official who courts fascism by pandering to the failed Trump insurrection.

The malignancy that is the Trump cult must go the way of the dinosaur. If it cannot be driven to extinction from within, leave it to die. Let the cult keep it. If you can’t bring yourself to join the Democratic Party, at least renounce your GOP affiliation. Let anyone still willing to sport an elephant or an “R” next to their name be branded as if they were among the seditionists on that terrible day. If you are an elected official, that is my challenge to you:  become an independent legislator.

The framers of our sacred constitution gave us a republic in which we are to govern ourselves, in accordance with the representative democracy they established. Theirs was not a perfect union, but they challenged themselves and their posterity – us – to make it more perfect, and left us a legal framework within which to do so. Now is the time.

Later this year, or early next, the redistricting process will begin. Congressional and state legislative districts will be redrawn and set for the next decade. What better time to address some of the most basic issues undermining our democracy today?

Partisan gerrymandering is one of the primary causes of our current predicament. Very few legislative districts are competitive today because they were all drawn, with surgical precision, to favor the winner of either a Republican or Democratic primary. What the people who adopted past gerrymanders apparently never thought about is how creating “safe” districts encourages the expansion of extremism. Moderate Republicans lose seats to fanatics, or white supremacists, or outright fascists, while centrist Democrats are open to challenges from more progressive candidates, socialists, and even communists.

Do we agree that every citizen deserves equal rights and privileges under the laws of this nation, including the right to fair and open elections? Can we agree that partisan gerrymandering is a clear and present danger to the Democratic principles on which our constitution rests? If so then we agree that it must end?

Undermining democracy to facilitate partisan domination opened a door and allowed some of the worst elements of American society to take over our government. Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of our country before it becomes too late. Democracy is an exercise in faith, and like any faith, it is only as good as the work we put into it.