As many of California’s bone-dry North Coast counties near where I live are being ravaged by the worst fires ever in a state that has become all to accustomed to these conflagrations with people dying and homes and businesses reduced to a pile of cinders we need to take stock of the preciousness of life.

Our cities north and south are going up in flames despite the valorous efforts of heroic first responders and we see communities coming together even as the life savings of thousands of their residents have been reduced to ashes.

Good friends in Sonoma & Napa Counties just miles away must now figure out how to adjust to what has become a catastrophe of immense proportions.

In the bigger scheme of things, whether we vote Democrat, Republican, Independent or not at all we realize that nature plays no favorites and can at any time wreak random havoc on earth’s inhabitants. It cares not a whit on how the state or the nation is being run or about who is in charge.

But unlike the capriciousness of nature, we as thinking beings can exert certain controls over our circumstances and we owe that not just to those over whom we hold authority now but to future generations.

We may not be able to save every plot of land on the planet but we have a responsibility for maintaining order so long as we remain in charge.

Much has been made of the fact that Californians generally veer center-left in choosing its leaders which has produced lop-sided single-party majorities in many of its highest offices.

As the 2018 election season heats up, there will be rumblings that the deck is stacked once more against the GOP and minor parties by a so-called “open primary election” which does not favor real competition.

There is some validity to that theory even though it was supposed to have the opposite result.

But that is only part of the story. The bigger culprit may be a gerrymandered system to which both major parties have historically subscribed as a method for protecting their own territories.

Some prominent voices such as former California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, are beginning to speak out loudly about this. They are being joined by Democrats unhappy with redistricting outcomes in other states who are now challenging it in a case involving Wisconsin which is before the U.S. Supreme Court. (This is examined more thoroughly in another column on this website).

Both California’s Democrats and Republicans, however, must now bow to a Citizens Commission which took the power away from the legislature. But it has done little to change the state’s political map with Democrats still the dominant force in Congress in both the Senate and House.

The fallacy behind redistricting reform is several-fold:

For one it does not increase the number of voters of different persuasion but merely shifts demographic populations within certain areas with the idea of equalizing some of the advantages. If that has happened it is not readily discernible.

It was also argued that, along with the adoption of the open primary, it would increase the opportunities for so-called “moderates” and minor party candidates who would have a better chance of contesting elections.

That has not happened either.

Instead it has mainly fragmented voter support to the benefit of incumbents whose activist supporters are the most visible in primaries which in this decidedly “blue” state typically foretell the outcomes in the general election.

However there may be other more pernicious factors which have kept highly qualified challengers from gaining power—and they may extend beyond local and regional attitudes and mere partisan affiliation to the office of the presidency itself.

It is a truism in politics that you cannot expand your reach only by stoking the base. Trump has been very successful at keeping his base (amidst signs it could be diminishing), but his Republican label has long since been discredited as he continues attacking the leadership of his party.

How that plays out in California has yet to be seen. But it will get a stiff test in November.

As discomfort with a rogue Republican increases party affiliation could become less important or even alienating diffusing further the prospects of GOP victories in state and congressional races.

This could have a viral effect on GOP incumbents in California—some very able– who will be forced to choose between remaining loyal to an increasingly reckless president or denouncing actions that are showing signs of growing disapproval among many of their constituents.

Those who decide to fall on the sword may discover that they could be ousted thereby adding greater numbers to the Democratic congressional delegation. There are seven GOP seats considered highly vulnerable against one or maybe two on the Democratic side.

In short, the gathering storm against Trump, who was already highly unpopular among California voters in a state which Hillary Clinton carried by 4 million votes, could be the death knell for long-serving highly talented GOP office-holders that could be caught up in a firestorm not of nature’s doing.

While hundreds of California citizens have lost everything in what is unprecedented devastation following on the hurricane calamities that befell our southern states, the President is primarily busy creating derisive epithets for “Liddle” Bob Corker, the highly respected very unpartisan GOP Tennessee Senator who happens to chair the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who is claiming ominously that Trump “could be leading us on the path to World War III.”

Corker also states that three former military leaders including the Sec. of Defense and head of the National Security Council who now occupy the highest positions in the Administration “are the only ones separating the country from chaos.”

His sentiments which must be taken seriously are quietly shared by many Republicans in Congress who have chosen not to speak out against the excesses and blatant lies of this president.

Disagreement is inevitable and even mandatory in a healthy society. Discord that tears a nation apart must not be.

As an unapologetic (often questioning) Democrat who counts many Republicans and Independents among my best friends and who strongly favors orderly, multi-partisan, consensus government, I make no secret of the fact that ceding control of our nation’s most vital decisions to one individual puts us on a dangerous course.

It has never been tried here. But in other countries it is called dictatorship.

If some member of our family was being unfairly ridiculed or smeared, there would be vigorous protest. Apparently that rule does not extend to members of Congress who comprise a family that despite serious partisan differences has an obligation to defend and protect its own honor.

If California lawmakers—many noted for their sensible and courageous positions—would take a stand individually and as a group against the unjustifiable rhetoric and policies emanating from this Oval Office, they are likely to be rewarded at the polls.