On the Republican side, Trump and Cruz have each bellowed about the other’s supposedly unfair advantages at a volume that’s hardly constructive. It’s self-promotion with a side of cynicism.
The graceless losing of 2016 owes something to this election’s particular characters. When you’re not just a man but a revolution (Sanders), you can never quit the fight or flee the front.
When you’re the Don Quixote of extreme conservatism (Cruz), you can never ditch your armor. And it’s easy to tell yourself — because it’s easy for all of us to tell ourselves — that surrendering to Trump is surrendering your patriotism.
But there’s more at work. The refusal to grant victors legitimacy bundles together so much about America today: the coarseness of our discourse; the blind tribalism coloring our debates; the elevation of individualism far above common purpose; the ethos that everybody should and can feel like a winner on every day.