Credit: George Danby / BDN

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Kevin Raye of Perry, a real estate agent and small-business owner, served as the 114th president of the Maine Senate. He was twice the Republican nominee for Congress in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Roger Katz of Augusta, an attorney, was a two-term mayor of Augusta before serving eight years in the Maine Senate.

We are lifelong Republicans.

We have attended Maine GOP conventions since the 1970s. On behalf of the Republican Party, we have registered voters, put up candidate signs and campaigned door to door. We both served four terms in the Maine Senate, where we each served in Republican leadership. We have long fought for core GOP principles and a better life for Mainers.

On Nov. 3, we will both cast votes for Republican candidates who continue to serve constructively and with integrity and civility in the best Maine tradition.

But we will be breaking from our party to vote for Joe Biden for president of the United States.

Why would lifelong Republicans take a public stand in support of the Democratic nominee for the nation’s highest office? Because, to us, the choice is clear.

Sadly, Donald Trump has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he lacks the honesty, integrity, empathy and leadership skills our nation so badly needs to overcome the crises of a pandemic, racial unrest and economic upheaval.

As Republicans, we know we will disagree with Biden on a number of policy issues. But honest policy differences are the American way. The current trend of divisive, insulting and corrosive rhetoric modeled daily by Trump is not sustainable. The unwillingness to respect differences of opinion is tearing our nation apart at the seams, even to the point of dividing families and friends.

By contrast, Biden is a tested leader who has been tempered by adversity and tragic loss. He has the maturity, intellectual discipline and leadership skills that can help heal a divided nation. He understands we must be Americans before we are partisans. He has shown the capacity to work respectfully with Republicans to find common ground.

To be fair, the president did not create the divisiveness of 21st-century politics, but he has championed it, promoted it and branded it, embracing the role of divider in chief. For four years, we’ve watched him disrespect, disregard and diminish the office he holds with his blatant falsehoods, outrageous and insulting Tweets and childish name-calling. His ugly brand of politics is doing great harm to our country and to the party we have long supported.

Trump flagrantly, even proudly, abuses the power of his office to benefit himself. He has undermined the Justice Department and the rule of law, encouraged foreign adversaries to meddle in our elections and seeks to suppress the votes of those who depend on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver their ballots. We watch a White House in constant chaos as a parade of top administration officials depart, unable to work with an erratic, undisciplined and unethical president.

The hubris and inability of the president to admit or learn from his mistakes has prevented him from coming to terms with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 190,000 Americans and crippled our economy.

He attacks America’s steadfast allies and the free press, but praises murderous dictators and ruthless autocrats who flatter him even as they crush freedom and democracy.

He mocks and insults American soldiers, war heroes and Gold Star families, but praises white supremacists as “very fine” people.

He dismisses science as a hoax, but promotes baseless conspiracy theories, which undermine confidence in America’s basic institutions — even casting doubt on the validity of American elections.

He demonizes immigrants as rapists and murderers, reprising the dark language of demagogues who stoked the same nativist flames in Europe during the 1930s with disastrous results.

He stokes the flames of racial unrest by vigorously defending monuments to long-dead Confederate generals who fought to maintain slavery even as he blithely dismisses the concerns of those troubled by the deaths of unarmed Black men on America’s streets today.

None of these actions reflects the principles that made the Republican Party great.

Yes, Joe Biden is a Democrat, so speaking out isn’t easy for us. But he offers the prospect of steady and reassuring leadership. He has character, decency, kindness and a positive message of healing that urges Americans to come together and douse, rather than fan, the flames of hatred and division. And he respects the facts of science and the medical professionals best suited to get COVID-19 under control to overcome the pandemic, restore our economy and put America back on track.

So, as lifelong Republicans, we will be voting to put country over party. Our democracy just cannot stand another four years of chaos. And our party should not either.