Everything we do in life has a cost. Presidential politics has always been living proof that politics has a price.

If you are a wealthy lobbyist with an agenda, you know you can purchase the influence you need to do most anything. The system has been nothing if not reciprocal. Lobbyist gives money to candidate, candidate writes bill/votes/kills said idea for lobbyist.

But it goes deeper.

Money in D.C. determines not only who is elected, who gets rich, who is prosecuted, who has power, but it also determines who has jobs at all levels of all bureaucracies, who gets to choose the next leader at all levels, who gets the $250,000 speaking gigs upon retirement and, in some cases, very literally, who gets away with murder.

Many have said that will never change. Until now.

If Ted Cruz becomes president

They don’t come purer than Ted Cruz. He is solid on every issue. Cruz was the king of bucking the establishment cronyism for the duration of his political career, that is, until he was, well, Trumped.

When Donald Trump entered the race, Cruz had no means to compete. Cruz couldn’t self-fund a campaign. So what do you do when you can’t compete and you’re committed to those who have passionately supported you in your run for the presidency? You do what you said you would never do, and you submit to the establishment. You hire their consultants, you let sweaty, hysterical people with whom you would never align yourself, endorse and speak for you, and you act impressed and nervous, because in your heart, you know you sold out because you had to in order to win.

I don’t believe for one moment that this is the character of Ted Cruz. But there isn’t one of us who hasn’t folded at some point, under pressure. He is human, and he folded. Does this mean he can’t be a good president? No. Does this mean he can govern independently of those who have controlled his campaign? Not a chance.

But if it is a race between Hillary (or any Democrat) and Ted Cruz, rest assured that those same consultants grasping at Cruz now for livelihood will use all they know about him right now to destroy him in a general election. It isn’t fair. It is reality.

Does this mean Cruz could re-gather his fiercely anti-establishment values and become a great president, if given the opportunity? Possibly. The establishment won’t take kindly to being dissed after they pulled out their brass to defeat the Trump phenomenon. Cruz would have to pay. The price would not be small and would likely cause the next election to go to a Democrat.

Gina Loudon teams up with her fellow Politichicks in their first blockbuster, “What Women Really Want” — available at the WND Superstore

If Marco Rubio becomes president

Marco Rubio is not a liberal. His “Gang of 8” blunder is something that is digestible to anyone who ever served in a legislative body, because the system readily forces some level of compromise for efficacy.

Rubio was never the plum of the establishment. They were all busy counting on Jeb Bush, John Kasich, etc., while Rubio sat quietly, worked steadily and waited them out. Trump rose up and destroyed the establishment’s stronghold while they were busy toasting themselves with Opus, until they had no one left but Rubio. Oops. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Rubio is too clean, too young, too competent – too Kennedy-esque. But he became their boy when they blinked.

Rubio could have been a great president, had Trump never entered the race. At this point, in their despair, Rubio and the establishment have stood at the altar and both forgot their prenup. In this scenario, given the youth and nervous temperament of Marco Rubio, he will melt under the strong arm of the establishment, and they will own him. His presidency would be business as usual, complete with raised debt ceilings, new hidden taxes and thinly disguised amnesty. He is owned.

If Donald Trump becomes president

Trump owes no one at first blush, except those who took a risk and spoke up to get him elected. Icons like Phyllis Schlafly, Ann Coulter, pastor Robert Jeffress and Sarah Palin, but all candidates have those sorts of activist endorsements. These are the kinds of giants that will hold someone accountable once elected. Many say those endorsements were bought. That doesn’t add up when you consider their personal worth, personal commitment to activism over pragmatism, and their track record. I believe that they will be at Trump’s door with torches if he goes back on his commitments, like building the infamous wall, improving the Veterans Administration, defunding Planned Parenthood and supporting Israel.

Does Trump owe some establishment types? Sure. Chris Christie only understands typical political payoff, but a cushy cabinet position or an ambassadorship to a little country will suffice for those types. Issues don’t matter much to them. But Christie, Brewer and Congress would work to divert Trump from the politically crazy, or at least that is how Trump supporters rationalize the landscape.

If there is one thing we know about Trump, it is that he doesn’t fit well into our traditional political template and that he is almost impossible to predict, even by the best political predictors in the world.

Purity versus triage

The psychology here is fascinating. Many of those who risked all to dismantle the establishment decided that the establishment can feel a lot more comfortable than the unknown.

Here is the question thoughtful observers are considering: Can a man with the ego and competitive temperament of Donald Trump, who wants to be the best at everything he has ever done, use that ego to be a great president?

Those who have chosen him have deduced that – even if they are afraid to trust Trump on issues like abortion, Israel and property rights – none of that will matter if we don’t secure our borders.

Trump himself has said there will be no America if we don’t stop the influx of illegals into this country. The reality is, many don’t like him, but many believe that he is most likely to secure our borders, and that we have no time for purity because this election is a political and cultural triage.

It seems harsh that conservatives are left with the most amazing opportunity of their lifetime in a candidate who is 100 percent independent of the establishment, but one whom even the most clairvoyant of political analysts cannot predict. They will be forced to decide anyway. Is it political triage or political purity for you this election cycle?

Gina Loudon teams up with her fellow Politichicks in their first blockbuster, “What Women Really Want” — available at the WND Superstore

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