When Richard Nixon lost an extremely close presidential election to John F. Kennedy in 1960, his supporters pleaded with him to challenge the results and ask for recounts. There were clearly irregularities in key states, and JFK’s popular vote margin was only 112,000 votes. But Nixon quickly conceded to Kennedy, explaining that he didn’t want to put the country through the trauma of an unsettled election with weeks of recounts and court challenges.

If only our 45th president would have been as considerate of the American people as Nixon was. Joe Biden outpolled Donald Trump by well over 7 million votes in 2020! But the egomaniacal Trump chose to contest, question, and challenge results all over the country for two months. His antics set the stage for the horrifying January 6 attack on our Capitol, with its accompanying mayhem, destruction, and death. Congress made it a point to rush through a second impeachment.

Far from being chastised, Trump spent the next couple of years agitating and complaining about being victimized—before announcing another presidential candidacy last November. The 77-year-old former president remains the frontrunner for the GOP nomination by a wide margin.

This despite the two impeachments. Despite the sordid payoff to a porn star. Despite being found liable for battery and defamation to the tune of $5 million after reportedly sexually abusing journalist Jean Carroll. Despite the multiple bankruptcies and lawsuits. Despite the countless documented misstatements/lies. Despite a recent federal indictment citing 37 felony counts. And despite constant boorish behavior.

Anyone can Google “Top 50 Trump Falsehoods” and find cornucopias of Trumpist excesses and unscrupulous skullduggery.

So, why is this man the top GOP contender for the party’s presidential nomination? Why does he want to return to the White House to angrify, polarize, and divide our country?

Why, indeed?

Read the recent indictment and the 37 felony counts cited at Trump’s recent arraignment on federal charges. They were in addition to pending charges on the state level. As well as pending charges from the city of New York. As well as continuing civil actions.

Some of Trump’s support has always been disturbingly cultish, but some are due to the understandable horror that so many Republicans (and non-Republicans) have concerning the selective prosecution issues at play here. Why were the Clinton and Biden Crime Families allowed to get away with so much?

As a way to protest these very real double standards, many Republicans stand up to support Trump. But just because the media and the political/government establishment ignored Biden/Clinton doesn’t mean the country should embrace Trump, with all his predilections, sins, lies, and excesses.

To his credit, the aforementioned 37th president, Richard Nixon, eventually apologized and took responsibility for his many mistakes. Trump never apologizes. After the 37 felony counts became public, Trump might have acknowledged some missteps. There is a place for contrition and humility. But Trump doesn’t own anything.

“Personal responsibility” is a hallmark of modern Republicanism. But nothing is Trump’s fault. He’s a victim. By obsessing about his victimization, Trump establishes bona fides characteristic of his former (Democratic) party.

The embrace offered to Trump by many of my fellow Republicans has national security implications. Review some of the indictments re: unsecured classified material.

Again, that Biden and Clinton were similarly guilty—but uncharged—in this area accounts for some of the outpourings of support for Trump. Attorney General Merrick Garland, former FBI Director James Comey, and their ilk deserve much blame for this national debacle.

My favorite Trump administration member was fellow Marine James Mattis—Trump’s first Secretary of Defense. That Mattis was part of that administration was a reassuring comfort. So naturally, Trump pushed him out. Trump suggested Mattis had Democrat leanings and was “overrated.” Trump, a narcissistic draft dodger (five military draft deferments), claimed he knew more about NATO than Mattis—a former supreme allied commander in charge of NATO transformation.

When challenged, candidate Trump calls people names and cites polls—as opposed to principles or policies. Which brings us to the crux of the problem for thoughtful Republicans. You/we are responsible for Trump’s unfortunate frontrunner status by enabling him. The knee-jerk and emotionally supportive response to a perceived political witchhunt is understandable. But eventually, emotional responses should give way to rational responses. The support for Trump among my fellow Granite State GOP legislators was always soft. Privately, several now express remorse and embarrassment at being tied to Trump. They’ll have to come to terms with their decisions. Some have backed off. At least one very publicly switched his endorsement from Trump to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As a New Hampshire state representative and committee chair, I appreciate the outreach I receive from most of the presidential campaigns, including the Trump effort, which includes some very good friends.

But the main impetus for me putting these words together is a mailer I received from the Trump campaign blasting another GOP candidate. Its demagoguery and the misrepresentations disgusted me.

I thought back to our last great president, Ronald Reagan, whose “11th Commandment” counseled GOP candidates to not speak ill of fellow Republicans. Candidates can differentiate themselves without lying about opponents’ records. Indeed, Reagan chose his biggest primary rival, George H.W. Bush, to be his vice president.

Democrats salivate at the prospect of seeing Trump as GOP nominee. He may be the only one that Biden could beat. Or, more likely, Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsom, as Biden’s cognitive and physical decline accelerates before our very eyes.

New Hampshire primary voters famously winnow fields of presidential contenders. No other state can match the Granite State when it comes to voter turnout, voter awareness, and voter engagement. Frontrunners and sitting presidents are held accountable and dismissed when found wanting, i.e., Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Ed Muskie, George H.W. Bush, et al.

I do not yet know for whom I will vote. There are some wonderful fresh faces out there of people with integrity who can inspire and lead instead of degrading and dividing.

As a history guy, I’m drawn to words uttered in the British Parliament on May 7, 1940, by Sir Leopold Amery. With Europe collapsing to Nazi tyranny, he reprised remarks uttered centuries earlier by Oliver Cromwell. Amery told Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that it was time to step away.

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Three days later, Winston Churchill became prime minister. He was not at the time seen as what he would later become—one of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen.

There may be a Churchillian figure in the current candidate field who can step up and inspire our better angels and point our country toward, to quote Churchill, “the broad, sunlit uplands.”

But that candidate is not Donald J. Trump.

“In the name of God, go!”