Megafires are a phenomenon in nature when debris like branches, dead leaves and dry pine needles are allowed to collect year upon year, sometimes decade upon decade. Add to that hotter and drier climates, and Man's understandable intention to suppress fire. These conditions result in uncontrollable, earth-scorching super-fires such as the one in Yarnell, Arizona in 2013 that killed 19 brave souls; the entirety of the hotshot crew sent in to extinguish it. In 2016, the political landscape has an analogous experience: front-runner Donald Trump. Will he destroy the GOP (as the “Paul Ryan” establishment fears) or will his bile produce a healthier more determined conservative response to intrusive big-government, our woe-filled country, and terrorist-infested world left in shambles by eight years of Barack Obama?
The answer is unknowable 'til election day, but the political tea leaves can be read. Trump is a complete wild card: a sword that cuts both ways. The positive is his true genius is in marketing himself as an “outsider” (who truthfully cannot be “bought” because he is already a billionaire.) While he is not a professional politician (a good thing), anyone who has the “for sale” Clintons to his wedding isn't exactly a babe in the woods when it comes to politics. Essentially, Mr. Trump is running a insurgent third party-style campaign within the umbrella of the Republican Party and it has the elites shaking in their loafers (also a good thing). However, his straight-talk is so unfiltered, his answers so unconsidered they are flippant (read: women “punished” for having legal abortions. Seriously?). One wonders if he is actually a Republican or the progressives caricature of the misogynistic Frankenstein monster they wrongly think a Republican is.
Indeed, Trump's populist rage against insulated do-nothing Republicans and lawless, spendthrift Democrats are the layers of brush, political dead wood Mr. Trump's “firebrand” candidacy is blazing a trail rapidly through. Yet, same as any fire can warm, it can just as readily singe. Is Mr. Trump the former, the latter or both? That is the fundamental question that frames his surprisingly successful candidacy.
On the other hand, there is Ted Cruz, the safer, happy medium between maverick and Washington insider. He has won Wisconsin primary by a robust 13 percent. Will he have the electoral juice to secure the Republican nomination (and defeat Hillary Clinton) or the class to put the people's will first given the current likelihood of a Trump presidency? That means waiting 'til 2020 or beyond (At 70, Trump will best “oldest” Ronald Reagan's 69 years). Complicating all of these moving parts is the economic tipping point for a country given its ever-mounting 19 trillion dollar debt. With a University of Pennsylvania degree in economics, perhaps a businessman like Mr. Trump is better suited to make the hard choices of the near future to rescue America from insolvency? In any case, at only 45, Mr. Cruz has plenty of time. But for what precisely? With the Supreme Court vacancy needing a strict constitutionalist, I wonder if the country would not benefit more in the long-term from 30 years on the court than eventually (perhaps) the executive branch.
Add to this already tangled mess, the self-preserving interests of Republican party leaders, elected officials and deep-pocketed special interests (read: the aforementioned “forest decay” fueling Donald Trump's “megafire” candidacy). These power players are so invested in maintaining the status quo they are ironically willing to facilitate the convention chaos that will likely result in at the high cost of handing the presidency (and the philosophical balance of the Supreme Court) by default to the corrupt Democrat. Even now, these elitists unhappy with Trump (uncontrollable) and Cruz (unlikable) scheme for a brokered convention to insert a hand-picked third option ( Paul Ryan?) who will lose in the general election. (Indeed, how is this top-down exercise any different from Democrats' superdelegates where the fix has been in for Hillary Clinton since day one?) This is the nuclear option that shatters the GOP: new and loyal general election voters will be disenfranchised, Trump might renege on a third party run (and who would blame him), and the rank and file will further suffer under Hillary's version of Obama's legacy-preserving third term. Meanwhile, the GOP elites will “lose” gracefully over Manhattans, and the smoke not emitted by the glow of their self-satisfied cigarettes will be the American Way on fire.