Here’s what we learned from the Wisconsin primary: Cheesehead hats are still funny. Packers fans don’t just go along to get along, and we are trudging deeply into the wasteland of the Plurality President – a place where the hopes of voters go to die while the major political parties cheer.
What do I mean? There is growing evidence that whoever takes the White House in November will face a country so divided, that he or she will know the vast majority of voters really wanted someone else. The victor will have the most votes, true, but only because mathematically someone has to.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s supporters have grown positively venomous toward Bernie Sanders’ camp and vice versa. Early on, both teams talked about pulling together after the primary, but now they seem like furious family members at a hill wedding gone wrong. They are united only by their opposition to all things Republican, and that may not be enough. The feud is bitter, bruising, and it won’t easily end.
And what about the GOP? Members of their old guard are gulping heart medicine like M&M’s as Donald Trump rumbles through their garden party – turning over the tables at their primaries, throwing chairs into the pool and making the Blue Hairs faint dead away. The alternative, Ted Cruz, is like the neighbor they hate but have to call because the police haven’t shown up yet.
Each camp among these front runners, profoundly dislikes and distrusts all the others. (John Kasich? Yeah, he’s just hanging around hoping somehow they’ll all go away and leave him in charge.)
So pick your poison. Put Clinton, Trump, Sanders or Cruz into the Oval Office and you have given the job to someone only a quarter of the country actively supports – and three-quarters potentially consider illegitimate. And what do you think any of them can get done in an environment like that? This is the choice the two parties have given us, despite all that frothy talk about wanting an end to partisanship, and to usher in a new age of cooperation in D.C.
Things can change and we don’t know who will win in November, but I think we already know who has lost.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously. He is usually more optimistic.)