Earlier this week, Marco Rubio remarked that while he still intended to support whoever the eventual GOP nominee was, it was becoming harder and harder to hold to that, given that the potential nominee could be Donald Trump. The look on Rubio’s face was one of real concern, and for good reason. Trump is the antithesis of everything contained within Russell Kirk’s Ten Conservative Principles. He gives way to the ugliest, most vile nature of society, and were it possible for him to gain the nomination through the primary process, first, then somehow defeat Hillary, it is no stretch to consider that our republic would quickly fall to third world status, under the iron fist of an orange-hued tyrant.

We’ve come to a point in this campaign where it is make-or-break. Kasich clings to his own aspirations, seemingly blind to the futility of it all. The single win in Ohio, while I’m sure a comfort on the personal level, will not lead to a primary win. Were his motivations patriotic, rather than vanity, he’d have packed it in and left the trail several months ago. Others, far more deserving of notice, have moved on for the good of the nation before now. There will be no last minute surge that propels John Kasich to the nomination. To pretend otherwise is folly.

In reality, the race is between Trump and Ted Cruz, at this point. I’m not happy about it, at all, and I’ll tell you why. When you think of those who helped create this nightmarish scenario, Cruz does not have clean hands. When Trump entered the race, Cruz was gracious, as most were. Everyone seemed to be willing to overlook the gilded toad’s announcement speech, which was packed with disparaging remarks about the candidates in before him. From that point forward, however, things didn’t get better. He became increasingly worse. Real men, like Governor Rick Perry, spoke up and condemned his behavior. Cruz, in interview after interview, praised and even said he “saluted” Donald Trump! The praise was so profuse, that at one point, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, posed the question to Cruz, that if Trump was so great, why didn’t Cruz drop out and support him? I was fairly certain that in that moment, Cruz would swallow his silver tongue. Instead, he backtracked and said that he didn’t believe in attacking other Republicans. That would be acceptable, if not for the facts. The facts were: a) Cruz had no trouble standing on the Senate floor and calling his colleagues “liars.” He was right, but someone with his oratorical skills and stated aversion to attacking other Republicans could surely have found some other way of expressing his disdain for McConnell and company. And b) no one expected him to go nuclear on Trump, as Perry [rightfully] did, but he didn’t have to praise the unpraiseworthy, either. No, Cruz, by his own admission, felt that there was something to be gained by treating a madman with kid gloves. He felt he’d get Trump’s supporters when Trump finally imploded. While Cruz’s supporters are calling him a “consistent conservative,” I just get this weird, Eddie Haskell-ish vibe from him. A “consistent” conservative does not abandon principle, nor crawl in bed with abusive fascists, for the sake of personal gain. Ted Cruz was willing to enable Trump, even as he dismantled conservatism, because he felt that he would ultimately profit from it. Now that we see that Trumpism has grown to the raging sickness that threatens to rip apart not just the GOP, but our society, there’s no clean and easy way to undo what has been done.

I know this view of Ted Cruz is not the popular view, with many. Let me assure anyone who may have a question that while I’m decidedly #NeverTrump, I am not #NeverCruz, and if he is the eventual nominee, I will hold my nose and vote for him in the general election. My fear is that with his proven affinity for doing what will benefit him, personally, if he does get the nod, he would seek to appease the angry Trumpkin hordes by pulling Trump in as his running mate. I’m not so sure that Trump’s ego would allow him to settle for second place to anyone, but just the thought that Cruz might choose that path is troubling on many levels for me.

While others are playing their subservient roles to Trump now (Chris Christie, and Dr. Ben Carson, most notably), they at least maintained some level of distance between Trump and themselves while they were in the running. The media continues to play the fool for Trump. I fully expect to see Sean Hannity onstage with him, at some point, dressed in a leather singlet and a ball gag. Likewise, the GOP power players seem to be “softening” to the idea of a Trump nomination, in hopes that his behavior of the last 9 months will dissolve to nothing, and he will suddenly blossom into a knowledgeable, serious candidate (The Washington Post gives details here). I’d call that a high-risk bet, very much like Ted Cruz’s willingness to lay the conservative movement on the line, in order to gamble that he would earn the support of Trump’s acolytes. That hasn’t happened and the GOP have been given no indication that Trump can be trusted to uphold the Republican platform.

There is a lot of blame to go around for the rise of Trumpism. Whether it was candidates who didn’t take the threat seriously, a complicit media, or a Republican establishment who weren’t doing their jobs from the beginning, all the ingredients for disaster were there.  We will see in a short time if the GOP is destined for extinction. I would ask that all good conservative patriots keep in mind those Ten Conservative Principles of Russell Kirk. We may need them as a blueprint, should an escape from the ruins of the Republican party become necessary.