Jonah Goldberg‘s latest column at National Review Online focuses on those who have boosted Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

[I]t would be nice to hear “My God, what have I done?” from a lot of people. A rich mixture of resentment (both misplaced and well-earned), incompetence, wishful thinking, greed, and celebrity worship has led us to where we are: An intellectually and ideologically unqualified, and often unhinged, demagogue is poised to become the Republican nominee for president.

For months, GOP pooh-bahs, cable personalities (including some friends and colleagues of mine at Fox News), talk-radio hosts, and politicians stood by and watched — or cheered — as Trump built his populist cult of personality almost unopposed. Now that Trump has a personal relationship, as it were, with his followers, he can do no wrong.

Trump famously joked that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his support. That remains to be seen, but he can play rhetorical footsie with the KKK, reveal that he thinks judges “sign bills,” subscribe to vile “truther” explanations of 9/11 and the Iraq War, embrace the health-care mandate, traffic in reprehensible sectarian tribalism, and vow to weaken the First Amendment so he can exact vengeance on journalists who don’t kowtow to his Brobdingnagian ego — yet not shake loose his fans.

That “success” has bred more success, as politicians jump on board the train. New Jersey governor Chris Christie set a torch to his integrity by endorsing a man who stands against nearly everything Christie once claimed to believe, Christie has confirmed all the darker aspects of his reputation as a cynical, self-interested, spiteful bully.

Many decent and sincere Republicans, in and out of the Republican leadership, have been operating on the assumption that Trump will fade and that the gravest threat is a third-party run by the dean of Trump University. There was a time when that concern was defensible. But once it became clear that he was favored to win the nomination outright, Republicans should have realized that a third-party run was more like a best-case scenario.

Better the GOP do battle with a know-nothing bigot (and lose the presidency) than become the party of know-nothing bigots (and still lose the presidency).