What, me worry?
"What, me worry?" a katz / Shutterstock.com

I wonder if our forebears could have known, when they decided to relocate America's capital to a swamp, that the location would be such a perfect metaphor for our system of government.

So here's how it works in the land of the free: Candidates tell the party that they want to run. The party collects the candidates' paperwork. Then the party waits until one day after the deadline to submit everything to the Board of Elections. And then, even though the candidates may have submitted all of their stuff months in advance, any one of them can be kicked off of the ballot because the party submitted their material one day late.

Great system.

To be clear, the Bernie Sanders campaign submitted all of their materials to the Democratic Party on the day of the deadline: March 16. Candidates are required to gather either 1,000 signatures or $2,500. (Apparently in DC, a vote is worth precisely $2.50.) Clinton did both; Bernie just sent a check.

As luck would have it, March 16 is also the deadline for the Party to forward all of the candidates' names to the DC Board of Elections. But alas: the Board of Elections closes at 4:45pm, and the Party policy is to accept checks up until 7pm. So every year, the Party winds up forwarding those names to the Board the day AFTER the deadline.

But that's okay — usually — because they've been doing it this way for years. The submissions ALWAYS arrive a day late.

But this time, it's not entirely okay. After the late submission, Bernie's candidacy (and not Hillary's) was challenged, and you'll never guess by who: a schoolteacher named Robert Brannum, the former president of the DC Federation of Civil Associations and chair of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee. What an unbelievable coincidence that a person connected to the Democratic Party would ALSO be the person behind a challenge to Bernie Sanders!

(A little backstory on Brannum: back in 2011, he declared himself an enemy of the Washington Post and parked his car outside their offices to holler at them on a bullhorn. Fun! He was elected to the committee in a vote of 86 to 33, which is kind of a landslide, but still narrow enough that if the other guy had schmoozed/paid off just a couple dozen people it could have gone the other way. So, if you're looking for elections where your vote can really swing the outcome, oh boy, check out those obscure party races.)

So Bernie's eligibility for the ballot is in question now, but not really. On April 6, the DC City Council will have to pass some "clarifying legislation" to put him back on. It's nice that Bernie has enough attention and enough friends and enough clout in DC that he's able to arrange that. But imagine if you were some nobody or running for a lower office and someone pulled this trick with you — what do you think your chances would be of getting special dispensation from City Council?

You know, it's almost as if all this is deliberate. But it couldn't be, could it? Why would the party deliberately create a system where any candidate that political insiders don't like is vulnerable to a challenge? No, there must be some totally legitimate reason that in the last four elections, the Party has consistently chosen to submit paperwork one day after the Board's deadline. Some reason other than a desire to sneakily lock out candidates that party bosses don't approve of. That reason MUST exist. Right?