Washington Primary, Clean Up, Nothing Vote, Feel the Bern

The misleading headlines say it all.

Clinton Winning Washington State Democratic Primary

Trump, Clinton win Washington’s presidential primary

Clinton, Trump win in Washington state

Trump, Clinton win Washington state’s presidential primaries

Uh, no. Hillary didn’t “win” anything, but I can hear it now. People will surely say this means something. People will surely say that these votes should be added to the tally that Clinton keeps referring to when saying she has a three million vote lead. People will surely try to frame it as some kind of balance against Bernie’s YUGE caucus win or as some refutation that Bernie wins with a large turnout.

And I’m right. Some people are saying that.


I imagine—and I know this anecdotally from talking to people—many Democrats, especially Bernie supporters, did not send in their primary ballots. And I’m one of them. Why would I? Why would anyone? The Democratic primary doesn’t count here in Washington. The party only uses the caucus to determine delegate allocation. The primary then is some sort of masturbatory exercise. We’ve already done the real thing, but now alone and in the privacy of our homes we can do it again. We can check that box and slip the envelope in the mailbox without any satisfying release and having then to clean up a slight mess afterward by putting some paper in the trash.

And yet it’s proclaimed that Hillary won.

Sadly, people who don’t pay as much attention to these things will see those headlines and tweets without reading the stories and not realize they’re being mislead. They’ll think Hillary actually won something in Washington and wonder why Bernie supporters are always making such a fuss about how the election is going. They’ll wonder why Bernie is staying the race. Then they’ll turn the page or click a link and forget about the whole thing, except for the headline. They’ll remember that. they’ll remark on it at lunch. “Did you hear that Hillary won the Washington primary?”

One of these days we’ll demand more from our political parties. we’ll demand a system that’s open and fair, a system that leaves nothing to question, a system where votes are counted equally and where the parties can’t tip the scale without facing open revolt, a system where loss—though disappointing—can be accepted with grace knowing that everything was done that could have been done and that no favors from insiders or behind-the-scenes deals altered the outcome, a system where votes are never discounted and discarded like the soiled tissue paper of the Washington primary.

Until then, we’re left with Debbie Wasserman Schultz saying that superdelegates never decide the party’s nominee. We’re left with the whole debacle in Las Vegas where at the very least, those in charge appeared to disregard those they’re supposed to serve and where votes—voice votes in this case—were certainly discounted. We’re left having to see some proclaim the hollow victory of a nothing vote and twist it to whatever end they want without acknowledging the nothingness of it.

washington primary vote

It is happening though. There is movement, even traction. This website is evidence of it—one piece of evidence among many—but we need to make sure that no matter what happens in this election that the parties and the political insiders and the pundits know that Feel the Bern isn’t just about creating a little heat during the 2016 election cycle before turning away from politics for another four years.

washington caucus vote

No. Feel the Bern means this fire is just getting started.


Dave O'Leary

Dave O'Leary is a writer, musician, and Bernie supporter living in Seattle. He also writes for Northwest Music Scene where his music articles grew into this second novel, The Music Book. http://www.daveoleary.net

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