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“God looks out for widows, orphans and the United States of America.”

If you add up the amazing number of seemingly miraculous events that had to happen to bring our constitutional republic into existence, and to preserve it during the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II, it’s easy to believe this is true.

But a presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton makes me fear we’ve tried God’s patience once too often, that America as we have known it is about to disappear into history.

Trump’s nomination would mean the effective end of the Republican Party, and could mean the end of the Bill of Rights.

But the Lord works in mysterious ways.  It’s possible we could wake from the Trump nightmare closer to the republic our Founding Fathers gave us than we’ve been in generations.

It’s now more likely than not the Donald will fall short of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination; that Sen. Ted Cruz will win it on the second ballot.  If that’s so, Trump’s candidacy will have made possible the election of a more conservative president than Ronald Reagan.

I’m not an enormous fan of Sen. Cruz. He’s used his formidable gifts to promote himself too much.  A team player he isn’t.

That’s been a big problem in the Senate, where Cruz is dislikedby nearly every other Republican senator.  But it wouldn’t be a problem if Ted were in the Oval Office.  A president is the country’s leader, not another player on a team.

If it weren’t for Trump, I doubt Cruz could win a general election.  Democrats and the Lying Swine Media would portray him as an extremist.  But after all the wild things Trump has said, that will be a hard sell.  Compared to Trump, Cruz seems reasonable and moderate.

And thanks to Trump, the Lying Swine will have a conflict of memes.  I agree with Jack Wheeler’s prescient column last week the Donald doesn’t really want to win the nomination; that his chief concern is for his “brand.”

Whenever he says something stupid, or evidence is presented he’s not the successful businessman he claims to be, Trump’s “brand” suffers. The debacle last weekend in Colorado calls into question his basic competence.

Trump has received the equivalent of $2 billion worth of free publicity, because the news media want Republicans to nominate the weakest possible candidate.  Which Trump clearly is.  As the ace psephologists at FiveThirtyEight noted ereyesterday (4/11):  Trump Is the Weakest GOP Frontrunner of Modern Times.

But if the Donald wins the nomination, the Lying Swine will turn on him in a New York second.  The tongue baths from Sean Hannity may continue, but in the “mainstream” media, kid glove treatment will be replaced by exposes about Trump’s business dealings and associates that could crush his “brand” for good.

That’s a loss of several billion dollars, as most or much of Trump’s claimed net worth is the alleged value of his “brand.”

So the Donald will do what he must to lose the nomination, then claim he was robbed by a corrupt GOP establishment. 

That’ll work with most Trumpkins, who are hazy about the distinction between a plurality and a majority, and be trumpeted by the Lying Swine, who don’t care whether the accusation is true or not.

A necessary corollary to Trump’s exit strategy will be to claim the nominee is a tool of that corrupt GOP establishment.  If Cruz is the nominee, that’s preposterous, and conflicts with the meme Cruz is an extremist.

Republicans are unifying behind the party’s most prominent critic of the GOPe because the alternative is unpalatable.  If it weren’t for Trump, I can’t imagine Jeb Bush endorsing Cruz, or his money men opening their wallets for him.

The Trump and Sanders candidacies make clear ordinary Americans across the ideological spectrum are sick unto death of a corrupt, incompetent ruling class.  They want big change.  A relative outsider who offers a credible plan for achieving it needn’t worry much that members of that corrupt, incompetent ruling class will call him “extremist.”  The stars are aligning for Ted Cruz.

Cruz isn’t popular with the general public.  But he’s less unpopular than Hillary Clinton, who – unless she’s indicted – will be the Democrat nominee.  Because Cruz is relatively unknown, he’ll have opportunities to make a more favorable impression.  There isn’t much Hillary can do to change opinions about her.

Where I differ from Jack Wheeler is when Trump will exit.  He thinks it will be before the convention in Cleveland. I think it will be during.  He’ll want the drama of a walkout in protest. As usual, he’ll want the cameras on him and no one else.

Nonetheless, a contested convention that he wins will offer Cruz an excellent opportunity to make an impression on Americans who know little about him.

Millions more than usual will watch the convention. Cruz’ acceptance speech almost certainly will draw more viewers than any before it.  If in it he can distinguish his GOP from both the Washington establishment under Obama and from Trumpism, he’ll be well on his way to the White House.

I think Cruz would beat Hillary like a drum.  Even if Hillary is indicted, Sanders won’t be the Dems’ nominee. A genuine socialist is as unpalatable to the crony capitalists who run the Democrat party as Trump is to conservatives.

As Jack Wheeler noted, the danger is Vice President Biden will be parachuted in.  That’s why the Republican nominee has to run against the system, the Obama administration and GOP fellow travellers as much as the Democrat nominee.  A Republican who’s been part of the system couldn’t do this credibly.  Ted Cruz can.

Candidate Cruz will promise change.  I think President Cruz would deliver it.  The Colorado state convention last weekend demonstrated the competence of his team as much as it exposed the incompetence of Team Trump.

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret, and was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan Administration.  He is the national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.