Donald Trump is now the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
I could not have imagined writing that sentence even a few short weeks ago, and it fills me with despair. How have we come to this point, and how do we move forward?
I have said it often enough, but it bears repeating: I will not vote for Donald Trump for president. There are millions like me. We fully understand the consequences — another four years of a Democrat in the White House — even if we do not like them.
Though I can only speak for myself, I think my sentiments are widely shared. I am an American first, a conservative second and a Republican a distant third. If Donald Trump is the face of the Republican Party, I want no part of it.
This goes beyond policy differences. Trump's positions on trade, immigration, healthcare, entitlements and foreign policy (muddled and confusing as they are) are mostly anathema to me.
But it is the man's character, first and foremost, that makes it impossible for me to put aside my differences.
I was fully prepared to support Ted Cruz, whose position on immigration I vehemently disagree with and whose style I found off-putting. But Trump is unfit in every way to be president.
He has neither the intellect nor the discipline to learn what is necessary to occupy the office. More importantly, his temperament is all wrong. He's vindictive, mean-spirited, vain, and unpredictable. He will never put the interests of the country before his own.
He wraps himself in red, white, and blue and slogans of making America great again, but what has he ever done for this country?
While young men of his generation were fighting and dying, and, as in the case of John McCain, being tortured for their country, Donald Trump was bedding down as many women as he could despite his fear of contracting a venereal disease. "It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier," he told shock-jock Howard Stern, explaining that he made sure the women he had sex with were checked out by his own personal doctor.
And this is the man who had the nerve to say John McCain was no hero! On the very day he tied up the nomination by winning all of Indiana's 57 delegates, Trump was on the campaign stump spreading vicious, unsubstantiated, libelous allegations against Ted Cruz's father, suggesting Rafael Cruz was an associate of John F. Kennedy's assassin,
Lee Harvey Oswald.
He's insulted women, Hispanics, blacks, Jews, even his own supporters. Remember his "I love the poorly educated" line? There is no limit to his depredations.
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the GOP, now wants Republicans to fall in line and support Trump. But doing so will doom the Republican Party — and worse, the country.
Thankfully, not all GOP leaders are falling in line, most notably Speaker Paul Ryan, who said Thursday he was not yet ready to endorse Trump.
I don't think Trump can win the election, but I am not nearly as confident as I once was in that prediction. The best way to ensure it doesn't happen is for those of us who think Trump is unfit to be president to withhold support from him.
That means not donating to the Republican National Committee as well as leaving the top of the ticket blank when we go into the polling booth in November.
There are plenty of good Republican candidates worthy of support. Give to their campaigns directly — so long as they don't tie themselves to Trump too closely.
If the Republican Party is to regain its soul, it is important that Donald Trump be defeated resoundingly. This should be a landslide repudiation, not a tepid one.
When the votes are tallied in each state, it is important that Trump's totals are lower than the totals of other Republicans on the ticket, not simply to save the Senate and House and other down-ticket Republican candidates but to send a clear message: Hillary Clinton did not defeat Donald Trump; Republicans refused to vote for him.
Linda Chavez is chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit public policy research organization in Falls Church, Va.; a syndicated columnist; and a political analyst. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics." For more of her reports, Go Here Now.