Primaries Are Not Elections

I was tooling around social media during Super Tuesday and found a few clusters of people who were griping about the DNC and talking about how to best show their disgust with the political party. Their primary tactic was to sit out the election if the Democrats don’t nominate the candidate of their choice.

I realized after reading that that there are some disconnects in understanding the difference between primaries and real elections and what participating in each means.

First of all, the primaries are not elections. They’re nominating contests run by the parties. The government isn’t involved, except for loaning out infrastructure.

Primaries have more in common with electing the president of the PTA than electing the POTUS. The political party makes the rules the same way the PTA makes the rules. The party can limit participation to just members. It can build in extra delegates. It can draw up the calendar of events leading up to the nomination. It can change the rules from year to year without outside oversight. It’s a private entity and that’s how private entities operate.

So, to everyone saying the DNC isn’t being fair, well, kinda. Compared to an actual election, this is less fair, yeah.

However, this is the organization that every candidate in the race chose to join and these are the rules they agreed to. In exchange, they get money and databases that they wouldn’t get running as independent in the actual election. That’s the trade off.

In November, we will have federal, state and local elections. The laws for those are set by the governments in question. The political parties backing different candidates abide by those laws (I mean, except for Trump accepting illegal foreign assistance, of course.) The results of those elections are of critical importance to the health, safety, and prosperity of our entire nation and everyone in it.

If you hate the DNC and think you’ll be able to stick it to them by not voting in November because your candidate loses the nominating contest, you’re making a mistake. Not an ideological one. A logical one. Sitting at home doesn’t punish the DNC. But your failure to vote in an actual election for actual government officials potentially punishes EVERYONE by ensuring a Trump re-election. The DNC will remain unchanged by your actions.

Also unchanged? The detention camps at the border, rights for workers, wages, and access to health care. If fact, all of those things will just get worse.

If you want a different, viable party to compete against the DNC and RNC, you won’t get that by not voting in November. You need to start one or find one that someone else started and build it up. Turn it into a big enough organization to stand up to the DNC and RNC. Run people for mayor and state legislature and school board and congress. Develop a grassroots power from the local level and then keep moving up. That’s a way to get what you want.

But don’t punish the rest of us in November. We’re not your enemy here. We’re just other Americans who want clean air and water, good schools, and affordable housing and health care. You not voting won’t get what any of us want.

Not voting is a way to get what Trump wants. Do you really want that?

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