You might have missed the news, as it was very lightly covered by major media outlets, but Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has been left off the Washington D.C. ballot for the June 14 presidential primary. With over three months left until the primary, there is absolutely no reason he won’t be included on the ballot.
As reported by Tom Sherwood of NBC’s Washington D.C. affiliate, WRC-TV, Bernie Sanders is currently not slated to be listed on the Washington D.C. ballot, despite the fact that his campaign turned in all requisite paperwork and fees, $2,500 worth to be exact, to the Washington D.C. Democratic Party well before the 7:00pm deadline on March 16. The reason for the exclusion is because the local Democratic Party failed to forward the paperwork to the D.C. Board of Elections until March 17, a day late, allowing citizens to challenge his inclusion on the ballot. All the party had to do was email the information, but apparently that proved too difficult.
The error is, to be clear, entirely the fault of the Democratic Party, as the Sanders campaign met all of the demands and expectations to be listed on the ballot. Interestingly, the party is misleading voters by implying that Sanders’ campaign staff waited until the last minute to file all the paperwork, which is not true.
In a statement to the Washington Times, D.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Anita Bonds stated that Sanders’ party plan, which includes the paperwork and fees, was completed before the 7:00 pm March 16 deadline, making it sound as if some of the fault lies with Sanders and his campaign for waiting until the last minute. This could not be further from the truth. Sherwood states that both Bernie Sanders and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, met all the requirements to be included “earlier this month”. Really, there is no excuse for the party to have waited until March 17 to pass the information along to the D.C. board of elections.
There are a couple ways to remedy the situation, both of which include jumping through bureaucratic hoops. The first is for the Board of Elections to hold a hearing on the inclusion of Bernie Sanders, possibly as early as next week, though no exact timeframe has been laid out. The alternative is for the D.C. City Council to hold an emergency session to resolve the issue, but again, no dates have been mentioned as possibilities for that to happen. Both bodies have thus far declined to comment on the situation.
Since the DNC failed to do its job, a local schoolteacher by the name of Robert Brannum was able to challenge the inclusion of Bernie on the ballot, and this challenge is currently outstanding. No challenge has been filed against Clinton. We would like to note that Robert Brannum has a long history of working with the local Democratic Party, including being the former elected chairman for the Ward 5 Democratic Committee and its current Sergeant-at-Arms, which is an appointed position.
It also appears that Mr. Brannum is a Hillary Clinton supporter based on several tweets, which may mean everything and nothing all at the same time. Yes, that is the same tweet being sent out four times, just to drive home the point.
All of this is bad news for Hillary Clinton, and it will likely hurt her campaign more than it will Bernie’s. Many Bernie supporters point to this as a sign of corruption within the Democratic Party and more signs of election fraud, following the disaster that was the Arizona primary, designed specifically to undermine the Bernie campaign.
Men’s Trait is not willing to go that far, and there is no proof of conspiracy or collusion on all the sketchy events that have seemingly hindered Sanders’ campaign, but it does raise some very interesting points regarding how the voting public feels about American democracy — namely that we have absolutely no faith in it anymore.
We’re nowhere near willing to accuse the Clinton campaign of any wrongdoing, and we’re not hinting that this is some kind of conspiracy to get in the way of the democratic process in the country, but the simple fact that large swaths of the American public could even entertain that idea is damning in its own right. There have been myriad things that have happened this election cycle that tell Americans not to trust the government and the democratic process, from party officials openly admitting that they’re trying to destroy the campaign of a certain candidate, to the consistent media blackout of Bernie Sanders, and this is a huge problem for establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle. You can read more of the accusations being levied against major media outlets and the DNC here, on Salon, and here, from Robert Reich.
This latest snafu that is hurting Bernie’s chance of mounting a fair campaign against Hillary Clinton, who currently holds a comfortable — though shrinking — delegate lead over Bernie, will just continue to alienate voters from the Democratic Party and its leadership. The same is happening with Republicans as well. Republican voters have quickly and decisively dismissed every establishment Republican candidate from their once crowded field of presidential hopefuls, aside from John Kasich, whose campaign is reminiscent of a cockroach that refuses to die. Establishment Republicans are so desperate to block Donald Trump from the nominations that they’re hoping Ted Cruz beats him, a Senator from Texas with very few friends.
The Democratic Party can dismiss the late filing of Bernie’s paperwork as a simple clerical error, but to voters who have a lot of passion for and devotion to the democratic process, it’s a sign that either the party is terribly inept or it’s corrupt beyond even our wildest imaginations. Since Hillary Clinton is the candidate the democratic establishment prefers (which is fair), she’s the one who is going to be paying the price at the polls. And perhaps rightfully so. As the leading candidate to represent the Democrats in the general presidential election, and the party choice, she is the face of the Democrats, and any ineptitude or corruption is hers to account for. Even if nothing sinister is happening, the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming a target for its constituents for poorly handling this election cycle, and Hillary Clinton probably should lose voters over it. If this is going to be her party after President Barack Obama leaves office, then democratic voters absolutely should hold her accountable for the flaws of the party. Nothing urges changes from politicians more than the fear of losing votes, as Hillary Clinton proved on the issue of LGBT rights, trade deals, the War in Iraq, the Wall Street bailout, campaign finance laws, etc.
If this is a sign of corruption and election fraud, it’s the most hamfisted, clumsy effort at it in recent memory. Personally, I do believe corruption and election fraud are both very real and very much a problem in the United States, though I wouldn’t point to this situation as an example. I would, however, add this to the list of coincidences that are fairly inexcusable, and if they keep happening at the same rate and to the detriment of the same candidate, at some point we need to stop making excuses for the DNC and walk away from it.
If the Democratic Party, and Clinton herself, want to put an end to all the corruption and fraud talk, to go along with accusations about how they’re unfairly rigging the election in Clinton’s favor, they really need to get their act together and stop screwing up. Leaving Bernie Sanders off of the Washington D.C. democratic primary ballot reminds us of the time he was left off of the Chicago sample ballot. And the explanations for both of these events are decidedly shady, if not outright undemocratic. Yes, the following exchange is real.
The exclusion of Bernie Sanders from the Washington D.C. democratic primary ballot may not be the sign many have been waiting for that proves the Democratic Party is corrupt and purposely sinking Bernie’s campaign; it’s just yet another example of dubious coincidences that undermine the voters’ faith in American democracy. And if things like this keep happening, Bernie Sanders supporters will continue to hold Hillary Clinton accountable, maybe even into the general election, should she secure the nomination. With each passing day and each new incident, Clinton is sending new recruits to the Bernie of Bust movement. And, frankly, maybe that’s a good thing.
If the Democratic Party can’t even send an email on time, with ample opportunities to do so, then democratic voters would be better served letting the party crumble and building something new in its place. Chances are they’d at least have faith in it.
And, for the sake of full disclosure — something Washington Post opinion columnist Jonathan Capehart seems incapable of — I’d like to mention that I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Tennessee primary, and I have donated to his campaign. With that out of the way, I would also like to mention that Men’s Trait, despite the funny name, does take accountability and integrity seriously, hence why we link to as many corroborating sources as possible. Each of our writers may have their own political preferences, but we also make sure that we support our claims with facts whenever possible. Commentary is ours, but the facts are corroborated by others. If you notice an error, please let us know and we will fix it.
Last modified: March 31, 2016