Political parties have one purpose: winning elections. Everything they do, from writing platforms to recruiting candidates to raising money, is dedicated to this mission.

One less popular but just as vital task is to take stock when they lose so that they can figure out how to win the next time.

The Republican National Committee has lost sight of this goal, and every day it takes another step farther away from it. Following in the well-worn path of Republican elected officials, the party’s leaders are twisting themselves in knots to appease Donald Trump’s lies about the legitimacy of our electoral process.

This week, Christina Bobb and 10 other Trump allies pleaded not guilty in Arizona’s “fake electors” case. Bobb just happens to serve as the RNC’s senior counsel for “election integrity.” Someone accused of election crimes is now solely focused on litigating election-related concerns for the Republican Party. You can’t make this up.

While Trump’s minions have taken over the RNC, Republican senators have also gone through a MAGAfication of their core selves. Auditions to become Trump’s vice presidential pick are becoming a litmus test of embracing Trump’s election denialism. During recent interviews on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Sens. Marco Rubio and Tim Scott both refused to commit to accepting the results of the 2024 presidential election.

This trend reflects a larger movement within Republican politics. This week, the nonpartisan group States United Action released a report tracking election denialism in Congress. According to the tally, 19 U.S. senators and 151 U.S. representatives toe the party line about a stolen election. A quick fact check: the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

When established members of the Republican Party refuse to extinguish lies that spread like wildfire, it opens the door to even more extreme actors. Unchecked extremism reached a fever pitch during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Now, an admitted rioter wants to go inside the Capitol — as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Charles Hand III advanced to a GOP runoff in Georgia. The winner of the Republican primary will challenge the Democratic incumbent in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District. Hand has already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his actions on Jan. 6.

While more than 10,000 Georgia Republicans voted for Hand, the majority of Georgia voters have repeatedly rejected election deniers in statewide races. After the 2020 presidential election, the “Stop the Steal” movement gained steam while votes were still being counted. Despite the movement’s popularity among Trump loyalists, Democrats were able to flip two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State’s runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021. Sen. Raphael Warnock has since successfully defended his seat against another election denier, Republican challenger Herschel Walker, in 2022.

A healthy political party should regroup after a series of losses in winnable races. After the 2012 presidential election, the RNC issued an autopsy report revealing voters saw the Republican Party as “scary” and “out of touch.” Instead of course-correcting, the party embraced Trump when he came along with his brand of grievance politics. The strategy now is to actively deny any losses. Facts be damned.

Even if today’s RNC doesn’t care about democracy, you’d think Republican leaders would care about winning elections. But if, as it appears, they will continue to deny any future losses, then there is no incentive to try to prevent them, either.

Any political party must be grounded in reality. The only way to win is to honestly reckon with the will of the voters as shown in elections. As of now, the Republican Party is ignoring those voters as it pursues the thoughts and desires of just one man.

For more thought-provoking insights from Michael Steele, Symone Sanders-Townsend and Alicia Menendez, watch “The Weekend” every Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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