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Averting self-inflicted Democratic damage

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Let’s hope that the process still underway that will soon culminate, barring something almost apocalyptic, in Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, will usher in an across-the-board sanity in the Democratic ranks that expunges a potentially self-defeating hysteria in some quarters. A reported communication to Bernie Sanders supporters the other day from the campaign manager ramped up acid-toned rhetoric to the very questionable level of characterizing as “a disaster” the possibility of Clinton being the party’s standard-bearer. Sanders himself has said he would do whatever it takes, if he’s not the nominee, to ensure that Donald Trump loses in November. He needs to begin now, to ensure that Democrats aren’t once again mired in a role they seem to know well: becoming their own worst enemy.

Between the presidential election years of 1964 and 1968, Democrats transitioned from a blowout of Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 to utter intra-party chaos in ’68, that facilitated the election of the first and only president forced to resign in office, Richard Nixon. Hardly was it the only instance of Democratic in-fighting within recent recall of presidential or other key contests more or less guaranteeing results favorable to the other side. One would hate to think that internecine squabbling among Democrats, making possible an outcome of truly hellish consequence, wouldn’t be a foremost consideration for the party’s rank and file in an election as super-critical as this one.

To the chagrin of Trump and haters like himself in the body politic, America twice demonstrated a maturity many thought it had not yet achieved by electing Barack Obama. Just as surely does the country possess the capacity to condemn the gross insult to its sense of pride that is a Trump presidential candidacy...in a major party’s embrace, to boot. It requires but a collective response whereby decency, too often repressed, is once again challenged to assert itself in the manner we know it can.

To get to that point, though, not putting what’s at stake come November into proper context is a faux pas to be avoided at all costs. We don’t for one moment discount the magnetic lure of winning that emboldens the Sanders campaign chief and all others in that camp. If, in spite of the well-nigh impossible odds of overtaking Clinton in the delegate count, they’re determined to press on, it’s certainly their prerogative to do so. But adopting self-destructive tactics, like the “disaster” label attached to the Clinton candidacy, tempts fate with respect to Democratic voter turnout to a degree that has no place in the 2016 equation. Trump is the 800-pound gorilla here. Not the one the New York Times editorial board described in its Clinton endorsement as “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”

Even as they lie in wait to jump all over the “socialist” stripes by which Sanders identifies himself, should he somehow wind up as the nominee, the Trump forces will undoubtedly continue to foment dissension among Democrats, urging Sanders to run independently if he’s not heading the Democratic ticket. Of course it’s see-through child’s play, this baiting. But strange things have been known to happen in campaign slugfests. And given the reputation for con artistry the guy calling shots on the other side is said to enjoy, one trusts that Sanders, if indeed he’s not leading the Democrats’ charge, will turn his attention squarely, as he says, toward seeing Trump’s presidential aspirations terminate where they should.

It’s our contention that, realistically, Trump can succeed in his preposterous presidential bid only if Democratic lethargy or indifference allows him to. Sure, there’s a portion of the citizenry anxious to see a course correction from the election “misdeeds“ of 2008 and 2012. They let us know, soon after we hit that plateau in 2008, how appalling it was that America had gone there. The Trump candidacy and hoped-for presidency provide reassurance for them that all wasn’t lost. And perhaps fittingly, hope of a return to a pre-Obama sensibility comes via a reprehensible character who alone saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and who has an angry “It’s none of your business” retort when the media asks about release of his tax return.

Hardly are we surprised that there are folks for whom Trump’s appeal to those baser instincts gets him a presidential grade “thumbs up.” A spirited, engaged Democratic voting bloc holds the key to those misguided souls becoming, as they should, unappeased witnesses to a greater truth.

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