In 2013, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal famously warned his fellow Republicans, “We must stop being the stupid party.”

Well . . . it was a nice try.

Today millions of Republicans still deny that global warming is real and human-induced; millions more think the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing worse than the flu and refuse to wear a mask; and still more believe the ever-growing list of QAnon conspiracy theories. And, of course, if Donald Trump loses the election, those Republicans will believe his claim that the election was “rigged.”

Here in Montana, it’s important to remember that Republican candidates have sold their souls to Donald Trump en mass. That includes Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, Matt Rosendale, Christi Jacobsen, and others.

How did the GOP become the party that ignores science, spurs racial division, disrespects women, sabotages the Post Office, and disregards ethics? Bobby Jindal’s statement provides the answer. Republican leaders crave wealth and power but know their constituents won’t vote for them solely on those issues. Therefore, to get what they want, they must depend on votes from the demographics they can most easily manipulate.

Donald Trump discovered that concept years ago. At one time, he was a Democrat, and overall he’s changed his party affiliation five times since 1987. In reality, Trump doesn’t care about Democratic or Republican values. All he cares about is himself.

That brings me to the uncomfortable subject of Trump’s Christian followers. While there are many highly intelligent, savvy Christians who are resistant to manipulation, the reason Trump ultimately ended up as a Republican was because he knew he could get the Christians in that party to do his bidding. After all, if such people already believed in a talking snake, getting them to believe in a tweeting despot wouldn’t be a stretch.

For Trump, the Bible is merely a prop to hold up for a post-tear-gassing photo op. There’s nothing Christian about the man, and he only tosses his evangelical followers a few political favors to keep them on his side and looking the other way. And remember, all those Montana political candidates who are in lockstep with Trump are just as self-serving as he is.

In the Bible, Jesus preached in favor of love and against the rich. What could be more unchristian than an obsession for giving tax breaks to the wealthy and making it easier for greedy corporations to pollute? If Jesus arrived in America today, would attacking health care, robbing Social Security, hobbling the USPS, and promoting guns and racism really be issues he’d support?

What about cheating, as the Republican Party has done in Montana with their unscrupulous signature gathering to put the Green Party on the ballot and their suing to stop mail-in voting? And, obviously, the GOP’s prolife stance is quite the opposite of what it pretends to be. After all, what’s prolife about favoring power and profits over protecting Americans from COVID-19 and global warming?

If you regularly vote Republican, it’s time to take a deep breath, swallow your pride, and recognize that your party’s candidates are using you. When Donald Trump proclaimed in a February 2016 speech, “I love the poorly educated,” he was merely rephrasing the old line, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Yes, Trump thinks you’re a sucker.

Even though Republican politicians rejected Bobby Jindal’s plea many years ago, this is the year for would-be Republican voters to get smart, stop voting against themselves, and realize that compromising ethics for a few symbolic political favors is not good for America. And the best way to do that is to vote Democratic.

Marty Essen is a college speaker and the multi-award-winning author of five humorous political books. His sixth book, “Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer,” will be published next year.