Democratic Primary: Nothing to avenge in This Civil War

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Bernie Sanders is still torn over whether or not to call off his campaign, while the New York Times says he’s still firmly planted in the race.

Sanders owes a large part of his success to the political elephant in the room (Trump), and — in that same vein — to the fact that he seems the more likely Democratic candidate to beat Donald.

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard it all from every side. One publication will say Sanders has a chance, while the other will declare Hillary the inevitable victor. Different writers try to paint one as a savior and the other as an opportunist, and to emphasize their variance in timelines as if that makes a lick of difference.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaking in San Diego, CA on Sunday. (John Smith for LAPX)
Senator Bernie Sanders speaking in
San Diego, CA on Sunday.
(John Smith for LAPX)

Meanwhile, the candidates themselves hardly seem to be fighting each other. Rather, they are playing the “Trump” card: “I’m the one who can go to bat against Trump.” They are, conversely, fairly dispassionate in throwing about any scalding criticism of each other.

Sanders told Charlie Rose that Clinton “has years of experience, [and] she is extremely intelligent.” Then he went on to defend his own experience and qualifications as well. But there are many Democrats who argue his smarts may have been tested to the max in the campaign and fundraising process, whereas Hillary has the sharper mind for foreign policy and pragmatic solutions.

Clinton herself has argued this, and may not be too far off point, just as Sanders is right to acknowledge that she has more notable ties to the American corporate powers than he. And yet, I find myself unconvinced that anyone needs to get all up in arms while clamoring for precise representation of their political bias when they’re standing on the same side of the fence.

Not to trivialize the American electoral process (because, honestly, it hardly needs any help this time around), but the whole situation is reminiscent of these superhero battle movies everyone is raving about. I haven’t seen Batman and Superman in a battle of the tights just yet, but I did catch Captain America: Civil War, and surprisingly found too many disquieting and slightly idiotic similarities between the whole Iron Man vs. Captain American and Clinton vs. Sanders mania.

For one thing, the battle is semi-imaginary. Never have two candidates complimented each other endlessly yet spouted off words like “unqualified” in the same breath. In essence, they stand for the same ideals, but with one conceding on a few points, expressing doubt, and taking money from the big banks and trying to stand on the firm — and central — ground that lies somewhere between American liberal and practically European.

Sanders, alternative in his urgent methodology but not so much in his actual viewpoints, represents all the whimsical, uncompromising leftism that we might need, but may not be ready for … apparently. (I’m ready, but maybe my naïve mind has been clouded by those student loans that essentially force me to choose between consistent internet access, sufficient groceries or medical copays.)

Secondly, the spats and harsh words thrown around by the Democratic frontrunners have been disgracefully (aka: refreshingly humane) unpolitical in their civil nature. It’s almost like the two have been on the same side for years, working for the same superhero — er, government team. Although the two have certainly been vocal about their differences, drawing lines in the sand regarding their opinions seems unnecessary, except to drag out the overhyped movie election process.

Hillary Clinton after winning the New York primary (YouTube)
Hillary Clinton after winning the New York primary (YouTube)

Finally, some of the spats have been pretty juvenile. Sanders has pulled a “She did it first” by claiming he only attacked Clinton because she did it first, and she has flat out denied the level at which she has obviously been bought by the establishment. Both of these mistakes have made their few criticisms of each other more potent. Namely, it makes Sanders’ judgment look weak and ill-informed, and it drags Clinton’s integrity further down into Never Neverland.

But no matter. The supporters will keep on claiming one side is drastically different than the other, that it’s “Bernie or Bust,” or that Hillary is the only one with the knowhow to lead, and refuse to just read the writing on the wall: Sanders has been fighting to keep Trump out of the Oval Office, and he has been fighting to win, but his battle with Clinton has been mere happenstance, as shown by the level of near civility the two have managed to keep intact during what may have been the longest, ugliest, dumbest political process we’ve seen in decades.

Seriously, it seems like this election year will go down as the process that lasted longer than most new restaurants.

In any case, wear your shirts and wigs and bumper stickers proudly if you’d like, but know that the real battle is simply to save a bit of face at this point. We have tripped, and the world was watching. They saw what happened to the GOP, and while I’m pretty sure we can’t entirely recover from the embarrassment, we can choose to dust ourselves off and get back to a varied pace that lurches somewhat in a progressive direction, or we can split hairs and keep endorsing this spectacle.