Bear up on Trump vs. Clinton

Protestors pushed off the street by law enforcement after a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Many Americans can’t abide either major party’s presidential front-runner. And the remarkably high “negative” poll numbers for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton raise the possibility that, come November, a significant chunk of the electorate will be voting much more against one of them than for the other. Or not voting at all.

However, before assuming that this peculiar election year signals the demise of our republic, keep in mind that the United States has long endured a variety of far more daunting challenges — including unpleasant ballot-box options.

Like it or not, a Trump-vs.-Clinton matchup looks increasingly inevitable thanks to the support of millions of primary voters.

No, neither candidate has clinched yet. But Mr. Trump’s nomination now looks more probable than ever. He rolled to lopsided victories in all five Republican presidential primaries held Tuesday. As of Friday, various media outlets were reporting that he already has about 1,000 of the 1,237 delegates he will need to prevail on the first ballot at the party’s July 18-21 convention in Cleveland. That gives the bragging billionaire renewed momentum going into the final 10 primaries.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton’s nomination seems even more assured than Mr. Trump’s. She won four of Tuesday’s five Democratic primaries, elevating her delegate total to more than 90 percent of those needed at her party’s July 25-28 convention in Philadelphia.

Yes, Ted Cruz is still striving to deprive Mr. Trump of a first-ballot victory, thus forcing a brokered convention. Then again, the Texas senator’s premature naming of Carly Fiorina as his running mate Wednesday was clearly a desperation ploy aimed at winning next week’s Indiana primary.

Mr. Trump got perhaps a bigger a Hoosier State boost of his own Wednesday night with the endorsement of former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight, who, like the New York City real estate magnate, revels in pushing the outrageous-statement envelope.

As for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong uprising from the party’s left-wing base against Mrs. Clinton, it appears to be running out of steam.

And millions of Americans are running out of patience with an extended, divisive, president-picking process that began with debates last August — 15 months before the nation actually makes its final choice.

Thus candidates and voters alike are feeling the wear and tear of this political endurance contest.

At least if the nominations are soon clinched, perhaps we’ll all get a bit of a respite from the divisive spectacle. Just don’t count on that much-needed break lasting long.

Yet don’t assume, either, that if Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton — or Mr. Cruz, Mr. Sanders or anyone else — is sworn in as president next Jan. 20 it will spell our nation’s ruination.

We’ve heard that overwrought alarm sounded before — and will hear it again at the time of future inaugurations.

So instead of overly fretting about which White House candidate you will vote for — or against — in November, find solace in the knowledge that the U.S. has gotten through much worse calamities than two major-party nominees with high “negatives.”

In other words, try to accentuate the positive — including the fact that eventually, this unnerving presidential race will end.