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A Presidential Historian On The Presidential Debate


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off in the last president debate Wednesday night. On Think, Krys Boyd recapped the night with presidential historian Jon Meacham.

He’s the author of biographies on Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, and he’ll be in town Sunday to talk about his latest effort, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” at Highland Park United Methodist Church.

The KERA Interview

Jon Meacham on: 

… Trump saying the election is rigged:

“I understand there are people who believe that America is rigged. Donald Trump would not be the Republican nominee if there were not a substantial number of Americans, 35 to 40 percent probably, who believe that there is a large establishment that both economically, politically and culturally has it out for them. And that’s a real problem. It’s going to be a real problem for the next president of the United States in terms of governance. It’s a real problem for you, and for me, and for everybody who believes in the republican, lower-case 'r' experiment.”

… how the Republican Party is changing:

“George H.W. Bush has never voted for a Democrat for president. If the election were held today my sense is that he would vote for Sec. Clinton. It is a sign of the times. This is a man who was the chairman of the Republican National Committee during Watergate. He’s the father of a man who may be the last Republican president. It’s a very interesting question. Will George W. Bush actually be the last Republican president of the party as we have come to know it since Lincoln?”

… Hillary Clinton’s hacked e-mails:

“If she just put these speeches out herself, which has been an issue since Bernie Sanders brought it up, they wouldn’t be popping up in October with a kind of spooky and undeniably compelling sort of way. … She has created a perennial political problem for herself. And one of the main reasons that she is one of the most unpopular people to ever seek the presidency is this weakness for concealment.”

… the divisiveness of the current campaign:

“Partisanship is fine. That’s why we have a republic. That’s why we have a democracy. Thomas Jefferson once said that men have been convulsed by differing opinions since Greece and Rome. Self-government is about differing opinion. What’s different is that you and I hopefully at our best make our political and cultural decisions based on the merits of what we say, and whether we are able to have a conversation about this policy or that decision based on the merits. If I just disagree with you in what you say because you’re the one saying it because you’re a Republican or you’re a Democrat, than we are selling short the experiment in self-government.”