Donald Trump delivers an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club on Monday in Detroit. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Fifty of the best and brightest in the GOP have come together and declared the Trump candidacy to be a clear and present danger. In a remarkable letter, 50 of the United States’ most well-known Republican national security officials have announced in no uncertain terms that they believe a Trump presidency would be dangerous to America. I know most of the letter’s signatories, and they are all clear-thinking, seasoned professionals who have been selfless in their service to presidents ranging from Nixon to Bush 43. Collectively, they have performed heroically as stewards of America’s leadership role in the world. They eviscerate Trump, noting that he lacks the character, values, and experience to be president” and “weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”

Hmmm. The letter does give one pause. It doesn’t appear to be a forgery. It is unlikely that all these people were drunk at the same dinner and signed it under the influence. The letter is unprecedented, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Hopefully, somehow Trump will take what they say to heart. Anyway, its release will no doubt result in more anguish and hand-wringing from the anguished, hand-wringing Trump skeptics like me. And this letter also exposes the divisions in the GOP that are growing by the day.

I am a proud member of the party of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, all of whom are Trump supporters. They’re representative of our “elected leadership.” And I’m also a great admirer of former CIA director Michael Hayden, former director of national intelligence John Negroponte, Ambassador Bob Blackwill and Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission Philip Zelikow — a group embodying the “worldly wise.” But there is a schism opening up among Republicans in this election, dividing the “elected leadership” from the “worldly wise.”

The elected leadership believe a Trump victory will give the party options; that when he wins, things can be made to work. They say, “Let’s win and then figure out what to do about Donald Trump.” They see a Trump victory as offering more positive possibilities than a Clinton victory. The worldly wise believe that a Trump victory puts us in danger, or as they write, “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” As Jesus and Abraham Lincoln almost said, “A party this divided cannot survive.”

The elected leadership are not campaign hacks. They are patriots who have been on the front lines trying to implement Republican policy. The worldly wise have sat across from presidents, helping them make life-or-death decisions. They have studied and tracked the kind of evil that seeks to kill Americans every day.

So who knows best? I ask the question because I don’t know the answer. One day I’m sticking with the elected leadership and then the next I see the logic of the worldly wise as insurmountable.

Is Trump the Republican Party’s deadly cancer, or just an unfortunate kidney stone? We won’t know until after the votes are counted. But if we wake up on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and we are stuck with President Hillary Clinton and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, it will certainly be the former, not the latter. I guess more anguished hand-wringing is in order.