The first day of the New Year seems ideal for a peek ahead in this presidential election year – although, as Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, making predictions is tough, especially about the future.

Nevertheless, I will step into the quicksand. My prediction is that, if Donald Trump should win the whole megillah (which is not impossible, considering that Hillary Clinton’s flaws as a candidate are arguably greater than his), many of those backing him now will come to regret their support.

That’s because he’s only an opportunistic Republican, and not a conservative at all. He has a long record of supporting liberal causes, he treats women according to the standard set by the Kennedys, Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton, and he glories in having no discretion about his speech.

You want Howard Stern for president, you can have him. I say, no thanks.

Trump’s shock-jock taxonomy is raw populism unfettered by restraints on government power. His chief political talent is to know what is on the public’s mind and express it in the most exploitive way possible.

Now, Trump’s populism appears to have found the perfect moment. He met an electorate looking for someone just like him.

As David Frum, a centrist, noted in the most recent issue of The Atlantic, “The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. … You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives – and for those of their children.”

Their discontent is both wide and deep, he said: “White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for – the Republican Party of Romney, Ryan and McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, ‘That’s my guy.’ ”

Yes, these Americans’ concerns are real, lasting and substantial, on issues ranging from Obamacare to immigration, and including terrorism, taxation and the “recovery” that never reached them. The Republican-approved let’s-give-leftists-everything-they-want omnibus budget bill was the last straw for many.

But we are nearly through the second term of a president who is the epitome of narcissistic self-centeredness, a man openly hostile to the historic American enterprise and willing to utterly ignore the law to advance his aims.

We cannot afford to elect another such person, even if he is presently couching his goals in contrasting political terms.

Yes, any potential alternative on the right is flawed. So what? Perfection is a chimera, but love of country is an absolute requirement. We need a president who has America’s best interests at heart, and time is growing short to select one.

I don’t have a particular favorite to recommend (in truth, most of my top choices have already dropped out, but acceptable alternatives remain). However, nominating Trump would be a terrible mistake for our nation – and that would be true whether he wins or loses.

At this point, I wouldn’t blame some readers for saying, “You’ve slammed the Republicans’ leader, but you haven’t listed any of Hillary Clinton’s many flaws. How come? Do you want her to win?”

Hardly. But it’s not entirely certain she’s going to be the Democrats’ nominee. The FBI is still checking out her emails, where two labeled “Top Secret” just appeared.

And even if what comes out of that is ignored or suppressed, the fact remains that she is a rigid leftist who spins falsehoods on any day the sun rises in the east. But she is also a stiff on the stump, and a woman who thinks her sex is her principal qualification for the presidency.

As it happens, she’s probably right about that last point. And the protection the major media have given her so far may fade in the glare of the coming national campaign.

So think hard about who should occupy the Oval Office when the economy really goes belly up, or a terrorist nuke explodes, or China decides it wants Taiwan, or Iran’s ayatollahs act to expedite Allah’s plan for the return of the 12th Imam.

As the saying goes, history doesn’t always repeat itself. Sometimes, it just yells, “I told you so, you idiot!” and belts you with a club.

I fear history is winding up a hefty backswing as 2016 leaves the starting gate, and neither of the two leading candidates is anywhere close to being capable of handling the job they’re seeking.

Indeed, no single person, or even political party, can “Make America Great Again.”

Do you want to know who can? Go to your bathroom and look in the mirror. You’ll see the only solution there is.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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