If the Republican party is on the verge of an implosion, Sarah Palin may have been the one who lit the fuse.

Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Palin's complicated relationship with GOP leaders over the past eight-years is a microcosm of the party's broader struggles with it's most restive members.

What started with an embrace by party leaders evolved into wary tolerance, followed by a potentially irreparable split.

With her endorsement of Donald Trump, she has emboldened the tea party insurgency into the main stream GOP.