It won't be that easy, Jeb.
For myself, the question is whether it's worth saving. 45% of the Republican electorate voted for the candidate of the Nazis and the Klan in the primaries. Just let that sink in for a moment.
I was uncomfortable enough sharing a party with bizarre creatures like Ron Paul. I'm not even especially enthusiastic about sharing one with the likes of Ted Cruz, though I suppose I can hack that; I would have voted for him if he had been the nominee.
I'll never understand the odd affinity so many conservatives feel for what Robert Bork called "that strange hybrid" of liberalism and conservatism, libertarianism, even in its saner forms. Sorry, guys. Gary Johnson is no more an option for me this year than Trump or Clinton are. I look upon libertarianism as an ideology as alien to my values as theirs. I get the antagonism toward regulation and the infringing of our individual freedoms by the government, but those freedoms must necessarily have limits if civilization is going to exist. I think they draw that line far too reluctantly, and I can't forget that liberal abominations like gay "marriage" and abortion on demand were originally libertarian ideas. But I value their insights, which are often points overlooked by the rest of us. And I do not object to sharing a party with them.
But with Donald Trump? No. Never. And more to the point, not with the people who voted for him in the primaries.
I grant that some are simply low-information voters who made a bad choice from the limited input available to them. I grant that many were acting out not altogether unjustified anger at "the Establishment." But those are finally not excuses. Many of the people who gave power to every dictator in history could say the same. You don't vote for an enemy of basic American values because you're angry with somebody.
No, I'm not going to be involved again in the fight for control of the Republican party in four years- not unless there's a massive purge of the Alt-Right crowd. Their presence contaminates it, and with the Trump nomination containment has been breached. The GOP has turned its back on Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Ike and Reagan. A new party needs to be born to fill the historical niche it has abandoned, one free of the heavy influence of those who neither appreciate nor even understand their heritage.
David Halberstam, in The Best and the Brightest (for younger readers, the best narrative and summary of the Vietnam disaster I've ever read) cited a pivotal moment that came during the Johnson administration. A meeting of the National Security Council had just adjourned. The meeting had been regaled with an optimistic presentation by some Pentagon general, the gist of which was that the Viet Cong were on their last legs and would be utterly defeated before very long at all.
The last two participants to leave the room were a young analyst and the National Security Adviser, Eugene Rostow. Rostow noticed a troubled look on the young man's face and asked what was wrong.
"Well, sir," he said, "it's just this. Let's assume that everything the general said is exactly right. Let's assume that we thrash the Viet Cong and the NVA on the battlefield and utterly destroy their ability to wage war in the South. Let's assume that we make it impossible for the North Vietnamese to get supplies and munitions past the 17th Parallel, and perfect peace descends upon everything south of it.
"Here's the thing: even if all of that happens, someday we're going to have to go home. And they will still be there."
Rostow frowned for a moment, and then nodded, pleased at the bright young man's powers of insight. "That's an interesting point," he said. Then he smiled, left the room- and the war continued to its inevitable conclusion. Of course, it wasn't just "an interesting point." It was the whole point- the fatal flaw in our entire military involvement in Vietnam.
What I see happening this November is, in the best case, a decisive defeat for Trump (I do not say a victory for Hillary, although that's the same thing; I will not rejoice at that) coupled with minimal damage down-ticket. In that case, Trump will be seen as discredited. Theoretically the rank-and-file will actually select a nominee in 2020, rather than squandering the opportunity to choose a president in order to throw a tantrum instead.
But the Trump supporters will still be there. Their attitudes and rhetoric, which with the Trump nomination come close to confirming every slander the Democrats have historically made about the Republican party and its values, will continue. Even if the party nominates somebody sane next time (and that person will probably win, just as anybody but Trump would probably have won this time), they will still have to be fought in the primaries and will still contaminate the party with their un-Republican and un-American values and rhetoric.
The rhetoric of the Democrats to the contrary, while they have nominated McGoverns and Dukakises and Obamas and Hillary Clintons, during the same period of time it's the moderate wing of the Republican party that has prevailed. Granted, an extremist like Hillary defeated an even more extreme Leftist, Bernie Sanders, this time out. But Republicans have generally nominated Bushes, or McCains, or Romneys- centrists whom the extremists found unacceptable and supported only with difficulty.
But this time, the Republican equivalents of the McGoverns and Obamas and the Sanders types has won, and the more moderate of two radical Democrats will be his opponent. Blooded by victory, the Alt-Right crowd is not going to go away.
The time has come for a sane conservative party to take up the fallen mantle of Lincoln and Reagan. Following Trump's nomination the only thing that can save the Republican party is a repudiation of the movement he represents so decisive and final that it would require a degree of resolution and guts not to be expected of a group of people so gutless that they couldn't even come up with an independent candidate to contest an election against the two most unpopular candidates major American political parties have ever nominated.
No, Jeb. It's going to be a lot harder to save the Republican party after the coming Trump debacle than you seem to think. And before you can expect me to even help you try, you're going to have to convince me that a post-Trump Republican party is even worth saving.
And I don't think the Republican"establishment" has the guts.