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Noted Historian: 'The Only Way to Fix the GOP Is to Have It Continue to Lose'

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To deny that the Republican Party is in a heck of a fix is to deny reality.

The state of the GOP — pre-2024 GOP presidential primaries and ultimately the 2024 presidential election — has morphed from a duel between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis into a full-blown circular firing squad; with multiple candidates firing at multiple candidates with reckless abandon.

And, of course, the respective choirs of the various candidates have eagerly joined the circle.

The question is, if the GOP is indeed broken, what must the party do to fix itself?

Historian and presidential biographer Jon Meacham on Friday offered his thoughts on the subject. Before we visit Meacham's comments, it's best to first visit Meacham's background.

Jon Meacham is a renowned presidential historian, contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, contributing editor at Time, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. His many award-winning books include “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” and “American Gospel: God, The Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation.”

While Meacham has voted for candidates of both parties, his body of work has primarily been focused on studying past presidents rather than endorsing current presidents or presidential candidates. That said, he was a secret speechwriter for Joe Biden in 2020 until the conflict of interest surfaced, so it's a safe bet that Meacham wants Republicans to lose in 2024.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "The 11th Hour," Meacham said in effect that the Republican Party must first be torn down and then rebuilt if it hopes to win future elections. 

The only way to fix the GOP is to have it continue to lose. I genuinely believe that it will be the ballot that convinces Republicans that they have to do something about this flight from reason. The only way out is through.

I assume Meacham believes Donald Trump will win the nomination — that's hardly going out on a limb, as things now stand — but that Trump will lose the election, regardless of the eventual Democrat nominee.

Furthermore, Meacham believes that current popularity polls aren't reflective of how the 2024 presidential election will ultimately play out.

In the polls for the former president, ... that is not what politics is. Politics properly understood is the way we conduct our public life, and the way we've chosen to conduct our public life in the United States is according to the rule of law. And right now, a significant chunk of a once noble party, the party of Eisenhower, and Reagan, and George Herbert Walker Bush — a party that did in fact, in the end, put country above themselves. They are not doing that right now. 

And, you know, you talk to Republicans, I talk to Republicans, and they will say the quiet part in private, like, "Oh, we want to move on from Trump," but you can’t just say it, right? This requires action. It requires a willingness to say, my team is wrong, and until we get it right, I'm gonna vote for the other guy.

If Meacham's right, he should also note the reality that different factions exist within the Republican Party; that it's not a monolithic bloc driven by universal groupspeak. In reality, today's GOP consists of three distinctive blocs: Never Trump, Ever Trump, and Republicans who'll vote for the Republican nominee, regardless of who wins the nomination.

Meacham insisted that he's neither a Democrat nor a Republican.

Because let’s be very clear, as Abraham Lincoln said, human beings — he said men — men act on incentive. The only incentive, the only way to do this — and you mentioned President Biden, he’s my friend, I help him when I can — the only way to do this is to continue to have Republicans lose at the polls. And I am not a Democrat; I am not a Republican; I have voted for people in both parties. 

But the only solution I can come up with — and I am open to others — is the only way to fix the Republican Party is to have it continue to lose, and that's really, really hard. But I genuinely believe that it will be the ballot that convinces Republicans in the end that they have to do something about this flight from reason, and this flight toward a one-man, "our way or the highway" ethos.

So, it's an interesting take, is it not?

The Bottom Line

While I believe there are some elements of truth in Jon Meacham's analysis of the current state of the Republican Party and what it must do to right the ship, I'm also somewhat optimistic that Republican voters — joined by a majority of the all-important independent voter bloc — will ultimately rally around a candidate with the best chance to kick the Democrats the hell out of the White House. 

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