- - Monday, March 14, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Wildfires are terrifying and destructive. They are also necessary and beneficial.

Prairies and forests that experience regular and natural wildfires have healthier, more robust ecosystems. Fire replenishes the soil with vital nutrients like nitrogen, while eradicating the dead and dying underbrush that chokes the forest floor and prevents new life from emerging.

Right now the GOP “establishment” — donors, elected officials and party leaders — are trembling in terror at the fire that started in Iowa, flared in New Hampshire and on Super Tuesday swept through the South as surely as Sherman’s army.

It’s a fire called Donald Trump, and it’s coming for them.

It has been amusing to watch the punditocracy pontificate from New York and Washington on the subject of Mr. Trump and his supporters. First dismissive, then nervous and now descending into outright panic, the people who are paid handsomely to predict and analyze have predicted nothing and have failed to even understand, much less analyze.

Many of these establishment and media types profess to be concerned for the fate of the republic should Mr. Trump succeed. His wall will be expensive and unworkable disaster, they say.

Really? More than Obamacare? More than the Iraq War?

Mr. Trump will target minorities for unfair treatment, they say. Really? More than Franklin Roosevelt, who herded tens of thousands of innocent Asian-Americans into prison camps?

Mr. Trump will target families of terrorists and other innocents, they say. Really? More than Harry Truman, who obliterated over 200,000 civilians at Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

Mr. Trump may have something shady in his tax returns, they’re saying now. Really? More than Al Sharpton, a hero of the left who has shirked his tax obligations to the tune of millions, and whom every Democratic presidential candidate must fete and fawn over, just as Bernie Sanders did only just recently?

Mr. Trump did not disavow quickly enough the endorsement of a repugnant extremist, they say. Really? How long did it take Barack Obama to disavow his race-baiting pastor? How long did it take for the Democratic Party to disavow Sen. Robert Byrd, an actual former Ku Klux Klan organizer?

Mr. Trump is a vulgar man and unpresidential in his tone, they say. Really, more than the Founding Fathers who slandered each other as traitors, adulterers and slave seducers?

To propose Mr. Trump’s wall (and to support it) is racist, they say.

Really? A wall, if you think about it, would just be a brute enforcement tool for existing immigration law. So the people are racist for wanting the law enforced but lawmakers who wrote and passed the laws are not racist? Americans have seen their jobs flow south and drugs flow north, and are sick of being called racist for craving the prosperity and security they deserve.

The point is not to excuse or lament any of these policies or actions, but merely to point out the obvious: All of Mr. Trump’s alleged sins of character and judgment have been shared — and then some — by our governing class. So don’t tell me the elites are smarter, better people. No one believes that anymore.

And the American people know what the establishment’s handwringing is really about: They fear the loss of their own power; holding it and selling access to it. That’s all it is. At bottom, they just want to protect what’s theirs, like everybody else.

But unlike the rest, they are allowed to do so.

The problem with wildfires is they don’t just take the dead brush. Some good branches fall to the flames as well. There are good people in Washington, D.C. But alas, they are too few, and too futile.

Republicans in Congress are terrified that Mr. Trump will kill the down ballot and hurt their own chances for re-election. One can’t blame them: After all, the forest never actually wants the fire. But to paraphrase a great 20th century poet, sometimes you get what you need.

• Matt Patterson is a D.C.-based author and commentator who served as political coordinator for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign.


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