Inspired by March Madness, I wrote a WND column in April 2015 titled “The GOP’s formidable starting five.” My lead sentence read as follows: “You might not like their individual moves, but the likely top five in this year’s Republican primary field is Duke to the Democrats’ (2-28) San Jose State.”

At the time, I was unaware that Donald Trump and John Kasich – the two top vote getters in New Hampshire – were planning to run. Still unaware on June 10, I wrote another WND column whose lead sentence read, “The Republican nominee for president will be that candidate who best learns that there is no future in apologizing.”

Fulfilling my prophecy, Trump declared a week later. He, Kasich, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson turned a strong Republican field into the strongest in my lifetime.

Consider, for instance, the field in 1996. That year, Steve Forbes actually beat Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan in Delaware and Arizona, edging Dole to become the least charismatic candidate ever to win a Republican primary.

In 2000, I emceed a Republican candidate forum in Kansas City. Although the two frontrunners – George Bush and John McCain – chose not to attend, the other four serious candidates did.

I screwed up Gary Bauer’s entry when I proved unable to pull out by foot the little stool he stood on. I had to kneel down and yank it out of the podium much to his and my embarrassment.

Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes apparently skipped anger management class to appear. Both bristled on stage and off. Steve Forbes, my favorite candidate that year, proved once again why no one has ever called him “Mr. Charisma.”

In 2004, John McCain flirted with another run. Remember? Here was the actual headline from USA Today, “McCain: I’d ‘entertain’ Democratic VP slot.” Now, that is a RINO. Four years later, he was our nominee.

Four years after that Mitt Romney squeaked by Rick Santorum to win the nomination. In 2016, Santorum, a good guy, got close to no votes in Iowa. Romney would not have done much better.

The 2016 field is that strong. Of my April 2015 starting five, two solid candidates – Scott Walker and Rand Paul – had dropped out before last Saturday’s debate in New Hampshire.

That left a debate lineup in New Hampshire of seven smart and serious candidates, any one of whom would make a better nominee than the Republicans who topped the ticket in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Jack Cahill’s brand new book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit — order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”

All that said, when I open my Facebook page each morning, I am deluged with angry postings from “friends,” real and virtual, insisting they will not vote if their candidate is not nominated or, more often, if someone else’s candidate is.

After Iowa, the natural born citizen contingent howled in collective indignation, many promising to withhold their vote – or even vote for Hillary – should Ted Cruz or even Marco Rubio get the nomination.

Yes, natural born citizenship is a serious issue. I have written about it in some detail. In fact, I co-authored the courageous Dr. Terry Lakin’s memoir in which we discuss this issue at length.

But if the courts determine Cruz and/or Rubio to be eligible, those who still threaten to withhold their vote are not being patriotic. They are being myopic, unwilling to see the forest for the trees – no, a single tree.

After Trump’s primary win in New Hampshire, I opened my Facebook page to find a recycled swarm of outraged Republicans, many threatening to withhold their vote should this racist, sexist, Islamophobic demagogue be the party nominee.

Please! Enough! Basta! Compared to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump is George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in one feisty package. Compared to Sanders or Hillary, Kasich and Jeb Bush aren’t RINOs. They are Ronald Reagan.

In 2008, we were told by the same Republicans who abhor Trump that electing Barack Obama – what with the crease in his pants and all – might be good for the country. If nothing else, they told us, Obama would bridge the divide between races.

Did these folks see the halftime show at the Superbowl? After eight or so years of Obama’s “one nation” folderol, we got a loving tribute to the Black Panthers and Malcolm X. About the only people in Denver not cowed by this renewed black power nonsense were the guys playing defense for the Broncos.

The nation has barely endured seven years of this madness. I am not sure it can endure four more. I Am Voting for the Republican. Period.

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