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I served the GOP for 20 years. The demise of democracy doesn't have 'both sides.'

The news has broken my heart more than it has filled it over the last four years.
Illustration showing photos of a funeral for a Covid-19 victim and the riot at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
We grieve for the victims of Covid-19, for the victims of systemic racism and for the damage done to our democracy.MSNBC; Getty Images

Help us celebrate MSNBC's first 25 years by joining us every day for 25 days as our anchors, hosts and correspondents share their thoughts about where we've been — and where we're going.

The news has broken my heart more than it has filled it over the last four years. We've grieved for the victims of Covid-19 and for the victims of systemic racism. We've cheered the scientists behind the vaccines and agonized over the slow progress of racial justice. Through these highs and lows, it has remained my distinct honor — and, indeed, a daily revelation — to anchor the 4 to 6 p.m. hours on MSNBC. From my first solo anchor outing, when I memorably tangled with a teleprompter, it has been a privilege to share the best journalism and the brightest minds with our viewers.

I never thought I’d cover the demise of democracy in my own country, but here we are.

But that privilege comes with responsibility: the responsibility to highlight the grave damage done to our democracy over the last four years by the ex-president and the political party I served for nearly two decades.

I never thought I'd cover the demise of democracy in my own country, but here we are.

Having covered, in the span of three weeks, an insurrection, an impeachment and an inauguration, we were under pressure to move on — to rush past the first two crises and focus on the change Americans voted for in November.

That would be a mistake. The attack on our democracy, spearheaded by the ex-president and enabled by the GOP, represents the greatest threat since 9/11. In many ways, it is more difficult to defend against. After 9/11, no one called the hijackers "normal tourists." No one denied the horror. The fight against domestic violent extremism in our military, law enforcement and communities may be the most fraught counterterrorism effort in modern history. Untangling it from right-wing disinformation and propaganda will require constant vigilance.

Those who served in the GOP have a greater burden to tell the truth about what their party has become. Those who know that the voter suppression laws masquerading as election integrity measures are solutions in search of problems have a duty to sound the alarm. The story of our times is understanding how one of the two major political parties became addicted to the same disinformation and anti-democratic practices it once rebuked in foreign countries and why its base has so eagerly embraced this disastrous pivot.

Under normal circumstances, I'd say that the voters will determine whether we continue to live in a democracy or head down the "other" path being charted by the GOP. But with a massive surge in voter restriction laws in the works, many of which include changes to how the votes are counted and who does the counting, even that sounds like wishful thinking.