Meacham Declares It ‘A Patriotic Duty’ To Vote For Biden

Presidential historian and frequent MSNBC talking head Jon Meacham traveled to HBO and Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday to wax poetic about “there is a patriotic duty” to vote for Joe Biden and that any Republican who votes for Donald Trump needs to stop and heed the words of George Washington.

Maher began by reporting, “Bill Barr says he’s voting for Trump. He said, ‘I think it’s my duty to pick the person that I would think would do the least harm to the country. The real danger to democracy is the progressive agenda. Trump may be playing Russian roulette, but a continuation of Biden is national suicide.’ I think this is sincere. I don’t think he’s posturing. I think this is what a good part of this country believes. Discuss.”

Meacham’s schtick is to wrap himself in the Constitution, which he immediately did, “It is what part of the country believes. It’s also– a good part of the country is wrong about that, as a rational matter. Now, politics and rationality are not complete bedfellows, which is part of the reason for the Constitution, is that we’re going to give reason a chance to stand against passion.”

He further argued that “I believe, and I say it with care, that’s become evident — to me anyway — that there is a patriotic duty to support President Biden against Donald Trump, for this reason: patriotism is allegiance to an idea. It’s not just an allegiance to your own kind. That’s nationalism. Trump is a nationalist. President Biden is a patriot, and I’m lucky, in that I don’t have particular policy passions, particular issues. I want the constitutional order to continue to unfold and President Biden is devoted to that constitutional order.”

Meacham’s claims to not have “policy passions” says more about him than it does the people he’s criticizing. For them, policy questions can be moral ones, but Meacham put himself atop the moral pedestal, “Donald Trump is self-evidently not and I would say to my Republican friends — and I live in Tennessee, so that’s redundant — that it is in fact a moral question and I was disappointed by what Barr said, you know, he was– he got religion for a little while.”

Later, Meacham addressed those conservatives who may not like Trump, but who are also repulsed by Biden and told them to get over it because George Washington would demand it, “Well, what if—you know, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas as we used to say. You know, but this is what we have, and to me, the interesting thing about the Republican Party is, if you are, in fact, going to put partisanship, as your central organizing principle, if reflexive partisanship is the most important thing — I would argue that you need to read George Washington’s farewell address, you need to read the Founders that otherwise, you know, they love.”

It’s not officially a Jon Meacham segment until he invokes Abraham Lincoln and this time Meacham used him to shame Barr:

The idea that President Biden is leading us to national suicide. I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but Lincoln used that image in his first major speech in the 1830s. He said if we have a fall, it’s not going to be from a foreign foe: It’s going to be from someone internally rising up and mastering those passions and those passions about partisanship, that’s what is ruining us.

The guy who admits to not having strong policy preferences should refrain from judging other people’s beliefs because at least they have beliefs.

Here is a transcript of the April 19 show:

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher

4/19/2024

10:23 PM ET

BILL MAHER: However, now Bill Barr says he’s voting for Trump. He said, “I think it’s my duty to pick the person that I would think would do the least harm to the country. The real danger to democracy is the progressive agenda. Trump may be playing Russian Roulette, but a continuation of Biden is national suicide.” I think this is sincere. I don’t think he’s posturing. I think this is what a good part of this country believes. Discuss. 

JON MEACHAM: It is what part of the country believes. It’s also– a good part of the country is wrong about that, as a rational matter. Now, politics and rationality are not complete bedfellows, which is part of the reason for the Constitution, is that we’re going to give reason a chance to stand against passion. What Barr is doing, and what so many—I sometimes think of them as the Peter Millar Republicans, right, these are Republicans who are not full MAGA people, they’re [unintelligible] types who don’t want Democrats picking judges or setting tax rates. 

They talked themselves into this twice. In ’16 and in ’20 and then came the December and January of 2020 and 2021 and that point, I believe, and I say it with care, that’s become evident — to me anyway — that there is a patriotic duty to support President Biden against Donald Trump, for this reason.

Patriotism is allegiance to an idea. It’s not just an allegiance to your own kind. That’s nationalism. Trump is a nationalist. President Biden is a patriot and I’m lucky, in that I don’t have particular policy passions, particular issues. I want the constitutional order to continue to unfold and President Biden is devoted to that constitutional order. Donald Trump is self-evidently not and I would say to my Republican friends — and I live in Tennessee, so that’s redundant — that it is in fact a moral question and I was disappointed by what Barr said, you know, he was– he got religion for a little while. There is a line in Tom Sawyer where Twain says that an evangelist comes through town who was so good that even Huck Finn was saved until Tuesday.

You know, Bill Barr was saved until Tuesday.

JANE FURGUSON: I wonder, I mean, I do wonder, again, we’re talking as though this were an inevitability that it would be these two. I mean, more moderate conservatives who perhaps feel a little bit more homeless in the Republican Party might have been tempted to cross over in the voter base and they have now been presented with this choice, where it, you know, was never an inevitability that it would be these men and what if there’d been a different option within the Democratic Party?

MEACHAM: Well, what if—you know, if ifs ands or buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas as we used to say.

You know, but this is what we have and to me, the interesting thing about the Republican Party is, if you are, in fact, going to put partisanship, as your central organizing principle, if reflexive partisanship is the most important thing — I would argue that you need to read George Washington’s farewell address, you need to read the Founders that otherwise, you know, they love.

You know, they love the Founders when they can move it around to agree with them. It’s very clear that if party spirit became the organizing principle, that, that was going to be fatal to the Constitution, and it’s very interesting when Barr said it’s “suicide.” The idea that President Biden is leading us to national suicide. I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but Lincoln used that image in his first major speech in the 1830s. He said if we have a fall, it’s not going to be from a foreign foe: It’s going to be from someone internally rising up and mastering those passions and those passions about partisanship, that’s what is ruining us.

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