PRESS: Will there be bloodshed in Philadelphia?

What a political roller-coaster of a year it’s been. A month ago, pundits were praising the superior delegate-counting operation of
Ted Cruz. Today, he’s out of the hunt and
Donald Trump, not Cruz, is the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee. Two weeks ago, Democrats were chortling over civil war within the Republican Party. Today, Republicans are chuckling over civil war among Democrats.

Meanwhile, the media is gleefully fanning the flames. Haven’t you heard? The in-fighting among Democrats is worse than it ever was among Republicans. Violence at last weekend’s Nevada state convention portends bloodshed at the national convention in Philadelphia.
Bernie Sanders, in fact, is inciting violence by complaining about how the process is rigged against him. And Democrats are so hopelessly split in the primary that they’ll never be able to come together before the general election.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Since, apparently, nobody else will, let’s set the record straight.

First, the differences between
Hillary Clinton and
Bernie Sanderspale in comparison to the ugly feud we witnessed among 17 Republican candidates. Plus, they’re based on differences in policy, not personal attacks and name-calling. Clinton may accuse Sanders of offering what we could never afford when he advocates tuition-free college education, but she’s never called him a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” “a serial philanderer,” and “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen” — as
Ted Cruz described
Donald Trump on May 3.

Sanders may raise questions about all the money Clinton pocketed for Wall Street speeches, but he never said anything close to “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” — which
Donald Trump said of
Carly Fiorina last September. And, while we’re at it, have you noticed? In her speeches, Clinton always refers to her primary opponent as “Sen. Sanders,” and Sanders speaks of her as “Secretary Clinton” — a far cry from “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted.”

Second, a robust, healthy primary, where those differences are debated, has made the Democratic Party stronger, not weaker. It has energized the Democratic base. It has attracted millions of new voters, especially young people, to the party and the political process. It’s made Hillary a stronger candidate. It’s made Bernie a stronger candidate. And it’s offered a sharp contrast between two serious, substantive, qualified candidates versus a total clown on the other side.

There is zero argument for aborting the Democratic primary at this point, as some suggest, before the California primary. To her credit, Clinton herself has not proposed that Sanders drop out, even though the math appears all but insurmountable against him. After all, June 7 is only two weeks away. She knows that Bernie has every right to continue his uphill battle for the nomination, just as she did in 2008 against
Barack Obama. She also knows that the worst mistake her campaign could make, and the surest way to destroy any chance of party unity, would be to force Sanders out of the race before Democratic voters in every state have a chance to cast their ballot.

Yes, competition has become more intense this close to the finish line and it can even turn ugly, as it did, regrettably and unpardonably in Las Vegas last weekend; which is why everybody involved must be careful in the next few weeks not to let things spin out of control. As a Sanders supporter, I have a word of advice for both camps.

Sanders supporters must remember that
Hillary Clinton’s the most experienced and best qualified presidential candidate in our lifetime, prepared to step into the Oval Office on day one. Clinton supporters must acknowledge that
Bernie Sanders has re-energized the Democratic Party by putting forth a bold progressive agenda with tremendous popular appeal. We’d be lucky with either one of them as our next president. And, of course, from now on both sides must focus most of their fire on
Donald Trump.

Forget the media naysayers. It won’t be the Democratic Party that’s split down the middle. Once the primary’s over, and after another healthy debate in Philadelphia over the party platform and new rules and direction for the party going forward, there’ll be no problem for the Democratic Party to come together in the general election. For two simple reasons: Because there’s so much at stake — the White House, Senate, House and Supreme Court; and because the very prospect of a President
Donald Trump is so frightening. There’s much more that unites Democrats than divides them.

Bill Press is host of a nationally-syndicated radio show, CNN political analyst and the author of a new book, “Buyer’s Remorse.”