Hillary Clinton takes selfies at a rally in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton has won. The tally from the clutch of states that voted last week accomplished what was for weeks inevitable and finally delivered her over the finish line, even before she won the District of Columbia on Tuesday night. Bernie Sanders remained defiant, and his more fanatical supporters seemed ready to back him until the end. It’s easy to see whyFor a while, as the Sanders campaign caught fire in early March, with wins or close finishes in contests from Michigan to Maine, it seemed that this unlikely Jeremiah was emerging as the rightful heir to the Barack Obama-led revolution that defeated Hillary Clinton back in 2008.

Democrat that I am, it was precisely this revolution that left me cold. In 2008, I wrote an essay for the New Republic explaining that I supported Clinton over Obama, in part because I felt many whites tucked their general distaste for blacks inside their excited support for the biracial Obama. (Andrew Sullivan’s claim that he was supporting Obama because he was so surprised to hear a black politician speak knowledgeably about the economy was only the most glaring example. There were others.) I was wrong then. Obama was the better candidate and has turned out, by almost any measure, to be one of the most important presidents of the postwar era. But I wasn’t wrong about the racial revolution or air of messianism that accompanied his movement back then. After his wins on Super Tuesday in February of 2008, Obama famously proclaimed “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” a statement that led Joe Klein to warn that there was something, “just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism” then coursing through the Obama campaign. Sanders is less majestic, if not less bold, in his commitment to total, ground-up revolution of American society or his desire to lead it, prompting his biographer to tell CNN last year, “he is the messiah of the left.”

But the immediate costs for Obama of his racial messianism have been real. Polls taken after his inauguration showed Americans, both white and black, decidedly hopeful about the racial healing he seemed to promise. But since then, the good feeling has evaporated, with a majority of Americans blaming Obama for making race relations worse. It is almost as if when the racial healing they were promised never materialized, Americans punished him for daring to make them dream it could ever happen in the first place. When the messiah fails to arrive, the disabused believers strike back.

We were lucky with Obama, in other respects, in that he wore his pretensions to sainthood more lightly than any one had guessed. Once reaching the White House and finding, for example, that his famous 2009 speech at the University of Cairo — which he ambitiously named “A New Beginning” — didn’t usher in the hoped for revolution in the Middle East, Obama ditched the robe and the sermons and set about trying to secure a nuclear deal in Iran through a decidedly un-messianic realpolitik approach. Rather than the earth-shattering triumph one would expect of a messiah, Obama — stymied by a determined Republican opposition that reacted nearly as strongly against him as his followers were for him — has instead settled, on everything from foreign policy to climate change, for the partial wins and half-measure that are the cornerstone of democratic governance.

But in 2016, if Bernie Sanders has been the charismatic heir to Obama, he isn’t the only one. So, too, in many ways, is Donald Trump. Be he a messiah or a demagogue, Trump’s posture has been, unquestionably, the most disturbing of any major party nominee for president in living memory, and not just its awful racial dimension: “I am the only one who can make America truly great again!” “I alone can solve” terrorist attacks; “I’m a leader… If I say do it, they’re going to do it,” explaining why soldiers would engage in waterboarding and other illegal acts at his command. The feverish hysteria Trump’s proclamations have caused among both his supporters and his detractors have been every bit as troubling. But it’s an hysteria we’ve seen glimpses of on the Democratic side, too, when Sanders supporters threatened the life of the head of the Nevada Democratic Party, with one especially angry member of the Sanders faithful saying the party chair should be “hung in the public square.” Pretensions to messianism bring out dark things no matter what candidate they’re attached to.

A recent New Yorker essay on the rise of Trump discussed how, 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln warned about the dangers of this kind of mass political hysteria. But ironically, our national habit of invoking the beloved “sage from Springfield” obscures the fact that when Lincoln ran for office, he was beloved by no one. He was a compromise candidate, the cold leftovers from the fiery contest between the pro- and anti-slavery factions of the Republican Party. Once Lincoln took the party mantle en route to the White House, he brought no one to their feet, and he brought no one to tears. Lincoln slowly revealed himself to be, instead, an elegant plodder, who hid his elegance deep inside his plodding and once gaining the presidency, ultimately, showed resources and depths no one could have imagined he had. The 16th president was a rude goose who, at the nation’s critical hour, sprouted gossamer wings and lifted the nation with him. We treat him now like a god through the hindsight of history, but when he ran for president he was just a man. There is little chance Clinton will show herself to have the moral or imaginative reach that Lincoln displayed (few have since), but she will mind, wobbily, ploddingly, the virtues of the Democratic store.

Every supporter of Clinton has wished at one point or another, she could find a bit more magic on the stump; that the fervor and power that comes natural to Obama or Sanders could seep its way into her somehow, but then that may be exactly what isn’t needed in this unsettling time. If so, the answer to a messiah on the right is not a messiah on the left. The answer, then, is to develop within the polity an aversion to messianism, a distaste for redemption at the ballot box, and elect someone who is maybe more boring, more awkward, more mortal than someone aiming to be the first woman president of our febrile democracy has any right to be. So, let the Sanders faithful bind up their wounds, join the prosaic chorus and sing, plod on, Hillary, plod on.