“[I]f Donald Trump fades away the party leaders will conclude they beat him and the crazy base. They will, like the Bourbons of France, learn nothing and forget nothing.”

In 1854, confronted by the moral evil of slavery and the inability of the Whigs to provide clarity against it, the Republican Party formed. Whig Party leaders either shifted their party allegiances or quit politics altogether. Even Abraham Lincoln got out of politics for a time.

By 1858, the Republican Party had majorities in almost all Northern States even without a Southern presence. The party won the Presidency for the first time in 1860 and commanded the White House throughout the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. With the rise of Soviet evil after World War II, the Republicans again commanded the White House repeatedly until the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

The Republican Party has most often come to power at times of crisis starting with slavery. But in the great moral crises now, the Republican Party finds itself infested with charlatans, conmen, louts, and Donald Trump. The Republican Party of 2015 more often than not responds to the fierce urgency of now with palms outstretched waiting for the highest bidder to purchase its policy positions while running from any fight that might get it criticized by a Washington press corps increasingly composed of former leftwing activists masquerading as objective journalists.

After eight years of broken promises and Republican collaboration in Barack Obama’s agenda to expand government, the Grand Old Party has been confronted with a moral evil in Planned Parenthood. Undercover, unedited videos show Planned Parenthood officials laughing about harvesting organs from babies. The CEO of StemExpress, a business that was willing to pay extra for fifty human baby livers a week, bragged on film about her “socially liberal” sister advising Republican Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) on health care.

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s response has been to call for more investigations while keeping federal dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have kept federal dollars flowing to all areas of Barack Obama’s agenda. From Obamacare to the IRS to Obama’s immigration expansion, the Republicans have chosen not to use any of their constitutional powers to restrain executive overreach. Instead they will let judges sort through everything. Privately, some Republicans support the President’s agenda and are glad he has left them from having to take positions that might further enrage their base.

The repeated betrayals of Republican leaders have led to the rise of Donald Trump. The petulance of the party’s congressional leaders who have spent more energy fighting conservative attempts to hold them to their word than fighting Barack Obama now have to fight to wrest control from Trump. Trump, at least presently, is immune from establishment attacks because the party leaders have lost all their credibility. A party that will not stand up to stop tax payer funds going to an organization that pulls whole children out of freezers to sell as scrap is not a party with the moral clarity to tell Donald Trump he is fired.

But there is more to this than meets the eye. More and more polling shows the biggest group of voters who hate the Republican Party are the Republicans’ own conservative voters. In growing numbers they have driven down the popularity ratings of Congress. Instead of trying to recover popularity with their base, the Republicans have convinced the Chamber of Commerce to spend millions of dollars defeating conservative Republican “troublemakers” in the 2016 primary cycle. Why join the base when the GOP thinks it can beat its base?

This then is why the Republican Party as we know it is coming to an end with only one way to avoid the splits that doomed the Whigs. When, not if, Donald Trump fades away, the party leaders will conclude they beat him and the crazy base. They will, like the Bourbons of France, learn nothing and forget nothing. Instead of realizing their broken promises and failures of leadership led to the rise of men like Donald Trump, they will conclude his decline means they need keep no promises.

The only way to save the GOP is for it to elect an outsider as its Presidential nominee who can lead the party in a fight against the President and the moral evils of the age. The party, as a hollow instrument to be controlled for ballot access will live on. But 2016 will be the moment many define as when the party left them instead of them leaving the party.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.