Well done! Huzzah! Let me hoist a glass to both major political parties because I didn’t think they could pull it off, but they have. Out of roughly 320 million Americans, they have found the two most disliked presidential contenders in a quarter century. For all their polls, focus groups and nationwide research the parties answered America’s desperate cry for a unifying leader with a resounding promise of more division. It’s a miracle!
Now before all you hyper-partisan types get in a twist, let me agree to some points. Do some people truly believe in Hillary Clinton? Yes, they adore her. Do some voters think Donald Trump will be the savior of the nation? Yes, they think he is fantastic.
But more don’t.
If these two are the nominees come November (and they will be, barring something truly unforeseen) the majority of Americans will likely not be voting to support a candidate but to oppose one. In a recent CNN/ORC poll, only 49 percent of voters have a “favorable” view of Hillary Clinton, only 41 percent think well of Trump. Her “unfavorable” rating is better than his (49 to 56 percent) but talk about being damned by faint praise.
This is not pure partisanship, as much as the party faithful claim. Each of these candidates is undeniably, statistically weak heading into the general election. We’ve had other candidates even in this cycle that more Americans liked and trusted better, including the still-clinging-on-by-his-nails Bernie Sanders. But as much as voters at large may want unifying candidates, the party faithful do not. They want to win. They want it their way. And they turned out in the primaries and caucuses to make it happen.
Indeed, faced with rampant electoral cynicism, horrific approval ratings for Congress and an utterly dysfunctional state of political discourse, our nation’s two main parties responded with a rousing shout of “Bartender! Another round!”
And next January when someone raises a hand to be sworn in as president, I fear most of us will need a drink.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously)