It’s bad to call a primary season early and to assume that you know what will happen and not to let the voters have their say, because as we’ve learned, they can surprise you. It’s bad to have assumed Hillary Clinton was inevitable and Sen. Bernie Sanders never stood a chance. It was bad to think Donald Trump could not make it and bad to think Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had no chance, and we had to accept Trump as the nominee.
But–with California and some other states to go–it’s very nearly time to call the thing for Clinton and Trump. Anyone still watching purely for the spectacle is dying for a contested convention, or maybe two. But the fact remains that after Tuesday’s primaries Trump and Clinton are about to grab the magic number of delegates that would make July a lot less interesting politically. (Though a total political newbie blowhard versus a hard-ass ultimate-politician isn’t exactly going to be dull.)
WHAT ABOUT BERNIE?
The little-Sanders-that-could-but-probably-won’t campaign won one state: Rhode Island. He said that he will not drop out until the convention but suggested he would be there to push the party platform into a more progressive direction. Because that may be all he’s got. Clinton gobbled Sanders up in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware. In all those states, Sanders picked up delegates, but Clinton got more, putting her at 90 percent of the way towards winning the nom before the convention.
THE FAILED ALLIANCE
On the right side, it was just as ugly. Trump won every state, though in Rhode Island Kasich got five delegates and Cruz one. The Kasich-Cruz summit came too late, if it would ever have done much good. A lot of people argue that the GOP will accept Trump at last now, that they should, or both. However, some in the Republican majority won’t let this go until Trump takes the stage against Clinton for the first time, and maybe even after that. Hell, she’s a hawk who loves Wall Street. Why do they dislike her again? And yet, either way, the party gets hurt.
THE PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEES
During his victory babbling from his lair at Trump Tower, Trump said “I consider myself the presumptive nominee.” He has 77 percent of the 1,237 delegates. The facts, it seems, have finally caught up to Trump’s sense of self-satisfaction. Trump, magnanimously, wants to put this extended primary behind him. His message to Kasich and Cruz was “let it go.” “We should heal the Republican Party, bring the Republican Party together. And I’m a unifier.” He’s showing it by facing outward, suggesting Sanders run as an independent, and dubbing Clinton, whom he recently argued is only popular because of her gender, “crooked Hillary.” Clinton, too, wants all the kids to know Sanders isn’t so far off from her, and they can come out and vote for her, too.
It has become clear that 2016 is the race for the people who wanted it the most. The bull-headed candidates who really do believe that they know best and can remold the country into something special. Everyone with the audacity to run for president has a huge ego, but you have to have something extra to act like you deserve it, which Clinton and Trump do, setting the stage for the general election of a lifetime.