WASHINGTON – “If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals.”

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November.

Indeed, only the fear that Trump can win explains the hysteria in this city. Here is the Washington Post of March 18: “As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.”

The Orwellian headline over that editorial: “To defend our democracy, the GOP must aim for a brokered convention.”

Beautiful. Defending democracy requires Republicans to cancel the democratic decision of the largest voter turnout of any primaries in American history. And this is now a moral imperative for Republicans.

Like the Third World leaders it lectures, the Post celebrates democracy – so long as the voters get it right.

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Whatever one may think of the Donald, he has exposed not only how far out of touch our political elites are, but how insular is the audience that listens to our media elite.

Understandably, Trump’s rivals were hesitant to take him on, seeing the number he did on “little Marco,” “low energy” Jeb and “Lyin’ Ted.”

But the Big Media – the Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times – have been relentless and ruthless.

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Yet Trump’s strength with voters seemed to grow, pari passu, with the savagery of their attacks. As for National Review, the Weekly Standard and the accredited conservative columnists of the big op-ed pages, their hostility to Trump seems to rise, commensurate with Trump’s rising polls.

As the Wizard of Oz was exposed as a little man behind a curtain with a big megaphone, our media establishment is unlikely ever again to be seen as formidable as it once was.

And the GOP?

Those Republicans who assert that a Trump nomination would be a moral stain, a scarlet letter, the death of the party, they are most likely describing what a Trump nomination would mean to their own ideologies and interests.

Barry Goldwater lost 44 states in 1964, and the GOP fell to less than a third of Congress. “The Republican Party is dead,” wailed the Rockefeller wing. Actually, it wasn’t. Only the Rockefeller wing was dead.

After the great Yellowstone fire in the summer of ’88, the spring of ’89 produced astonishing green growth everywhere. The Yellowstone fire of the GOP was in ’64, burning up a million acres of dead wood, preparing the path for party renewal. Renewal often follows rebellion.

Republican strength today, on Capitol Hill and in state offices, is at levels unseen since Calvin Coolidge. Turnout in the GOP primaries has been running at levels unseen in American history, while turnout in the Democratic primaries is below what it was in the Obama-Clinton race of 2008.

This opportunity for Republicans should be a cause for rejoicing, not all this weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the party in Cleveland can bring together the Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich forces, the White House, Supreme Court and Congress are all within reach.

Consider. Clinton was beaten by Bernie Sanders in Michigan, and pressed in Ohio and Illinois, on her support for NAFTA and the trade deals of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that eviscerated American manufacturing and led to the loss of millions of factory jobs and the stagnation of wages.

Sanders’ issues are Trump’s issues.

A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton’s support for NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China – and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles – is a winning hand.

Lately, 116 architects and subcontractors of the Bush I and II foreign policy took their own version of the Oxford Oath. They will not vote for, nor serve in a Trump administration.

Talking heads are bobbing up on cable TV to declare that if Trump is nominee, they will not vote for him and may vote for Clinton.

This is not unwelcome news. Let them go.

Their departure testifies that Trump is offering something new and different from the foreign policy failures this crowd did so much to produce.

The worst mistake Trump could make would be to tailor his winning positions on trade, immigration and intervention – to court such losers.

While Trump should reach out to the defeated establishment of the party, he cannot compromise the issues that brought him where he is, or embrace the failed policies that establishment produced. This would be throwing away his aces.

The Trump campaign is not a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It is a rebellion of shareholders who are voting to throw out the corporate officers and board of directors that ran the company into the ground.

Only the company here is our country.

See Patrick Buchanan’s newest message to the GOP.

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