Republicans Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson are co-founders of the Lincoln Project. Stuart Stevens is a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project.

This is for the many men and women in Washington with whom we have worked over the past 30-plus years. Some of you hold elected office. Some are officials in the Trump administration. Many of you are members of the consultant and lobbyist class.

In two weeks, the most consequential election of our generation will come, and your time for choosing will arrive. As Republicans, will you stand with President Trump, or will you stand with, and stand up for, America? Will you protect democracy or protect a single person and his family?

We’re not merely talking about your vote.

We’re talking about what comes next.

Never before in U.S. history has an incumbent president refused in advance to accept the outcome of an election. In the days ahead, your party may call upon you to support efforts by a White House that refuses to transfer power after a loss at the polls. The weapons won’t be tanks but thousands of lawyers backed by an attorney general who works for the president, not the people.

This effort will succeed only if a Republican Party power structure offers blind allegiance to one man instead of the republic. Every Republican elected official, staffer, consultant, operative and sympathizer will face a choice: my party or my country?

To do nothing is a choice. Passivity may seem easy at first. Soon, though, what you’ll be asked to do to remain in favor will surpass your moral boundaries. By then, it will be too late.

And, by then, it will be anything but easy. Remember why you came to Washington. You came to serve, whether as an intern, young staffer or the most senior official in a government, with great hope and idealism. With time, all passions cool, but we hope that you have not, at your core, lost the beliefs that first brought you to the nation’s capital.

Trump, though, was never in anyone’s plan. From the moment he descended the golden escalator, you’ve seen him for what he is: a boor, incapable and unfit for office. His victory was an unwelcome shock. The Washington — the nation — you knew would soon be gone — none of us knew just how far gone.

Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center warns that the president is doing the work of our foreign adversaries by undermining the legitimacy of the U.S. election. (The Washington Post)

Since taking office, Trump’s behavior has deteriorated. His contempt for the laws, traditions, rules and norms became breathtakingly evident. Hushed conversations over lunches and dinners became recitations of his latest outrage.

But what did you do about it? Nothing.

You know what Republican elected officials have said about Trump behind closed doors from the start because you are often — maybe always — behind those doors. You’ve seen the haunted look in a colleague’s or a boss’s eyes after a meeting with the unstable, unfit man who is our president. You know in your heart that Trump should not be president for another day.

We understand what we are asking: to choose between doing what’s best for the country and doing what’s best for your bank account. Many of you have “kept your powder dry,” waiting for the right moment to say or do something — preserving all the while the little transactional encounters that can mean the difference between failure and success.

We know what you stand to lose from taking a stand. Your phone calls and texts may go unreturned. The receptions, parties and dates on the social calendar may be outside your reach. You may be ostracized. You may lose business.

And it will be worth it.

To believe that your life or your business will continue as you’ve known them during four more years of the current administration is to close your eyes. You know what Trump is doing to the country you love.

As conservatives, we long argued that culture was the soul of America. We were right, but it is Trump who now assaults our nation’s soul.

The time for choosing is at hand. Will you choose a republic or an autocracy?

Some of you have chosen. You are already at work on this lawless and amoral project, litigating in the states to suppress the vote. Many of you are planning to replace slates of electors to win another term for Trump. Many of you are planning to snatch an election victory from the people by any means necessary.

Think hard before you continue.

Trump is collapsing. His campaign is leaderless and broke. His failures have cost nearly 220,000 Americans their lives and tens of millions their jobs. His instability is increasing; you see it every day.

Endangered members of the Senate are running from him as they finally realize that Trump will be their undoing. What are you waiting for?

None of us can choose history. History chooses us. If you ever wondered what side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge you would have stood on, this is your chance to choose. Those who went before faced dogs and fire hoses, and yet they did not flinch.

In war and peace, Americans have displayed unparalleled courage in the face of evil and injustice. It doesn’t take courage to stand up to Trump; it takes courage to stand up for your country. That is the legacy we inherited and are called to defend.

That is the choice. America or Trump? Now is the time to stand with the country you love.


This file was originally published with the incorrect name of a writer because of an editing error.

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