Democrats: Clinton, Feinstein, and the ‘Process’

Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Alison Hartson, 2020, 2022, DCCC, memo
The guy on the right is Ben Ray Lujan, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Committee. I don’t really discuss him in this post, but his DCCC is responsible for giving new candidates a questionable memo.

In the previous posts in this series, I talked about current congressional candidates who are running as Democrats (with or without the party’s backing) and some possible presidential candidates. And in each post, I hinted at my displeasure of the party’s process (with regards to promoting and supporting candidates).

The party is still crowing about taking a seat in a red state which last elected a Democratic U.S. senator 25 years ago, but there is still much to learn. Sure, Black voters in Alabama were rightfully praised for showing up and largely supporting Jones, but there were several lessons that race the party needs to take to heart.

Instead, the Democrats are taking all of the wrong lessons from Doug Jones’ victory. Doug Jones himself is taking the wrong lessons from his victory. In particular, some people screamed from the rooftops to tell everyone that centrism worked. They felt that they found a recipe for winning in the age of Trump. But they conveniently ignored other factors in the race.

The truth is Jones barely beat a child predator who refused to be part of a debate. And Jones didn’t even earn a majority of the vote at that.

If the allegations against Roy Moore had never surfaced during the race, Jones would have lost by at least 20 points. Think about that for a minute.

Could Jones have pulled off a more convincing victory under the same circumstances? I honestly don’t know, but the Democrats will need to have stronger showings across the country, but Democrats are doing a lot to mess that up.

What Does This Have to Do with Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein?

There is a connection to Jones, Clinton, Feinstein, and its name is centrism. The party’s leadership and donors prefer centrists, repeating the “consensus” belief that centrists won’t alienate conservatives.

Also, the process has everything to do with the ladies I mentioned above because the party’s process is tied to a certain attitude that persists. In addition to preferring centrist candidates, the party refuses to challenge incumbents outside of extenuating circumstances. The party also frowns upon people who question it or challenge it in any. But that is exactly what I’m doing right now, because I have a few bones to pick with Clinton, Feinstein, and the party’s leadership.

Hillary Clinton Will Be a Factor, but Will She Run for the Presidency in 2020?

Is Clinton running again?

This is a question that’s been asked time and time again, with no answers set in stone. While Hillary Clinton and some of the people close to her said she is not going to run for president again, I don’t really believe them. I think it’s a possibility she does run again, but the questions is: Does Clinton want to put herself through that again? It would seem she is leaning towards a no in that regard.

Now, there are a number of holdouts who hope Clinton does run again, but there is a compelling case for her not to, besides the question I just posed.

In any case, Hillary Clinton will have a say in who runs and how the primary is run. And from the looks of things she I think she may prefer Kamala Harris, at least for now.

But is that a good thing? I don’t believe so.

In the Rift on the Left Series (which I need to finish), I went into detail about the numerous shortcomings of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including what she could control and some of the things beyond her control. Why am I mentioning this? Well, if she were to run again (or endorse someone) she or that person would immediately start with a huge disadvantage. It might not seem fair, but we need to be honest about this.

The fact of the matter is Hillary Clinton ran for president twice and lost both times. And those campaigns were decidedly ugly. My point is this: The Democratic Party needs new candidates, preferably those who have learned from past mistakes.

But to those who insist that Clinton should run again (or pull the strings in the party), here are some more hard truths about the Clintons.

1. Hillary Clinton Has a High Unfavorability Rating.

One of the questions Democrats must ask themselves before running anyone is whether or not they feel that person has a real chance of winning. Unfortunately, I feel that Clinton is not the answer, even though Trump has been disastrous in the White House and he has the lowest favorability ratings of any president since those numbers were first examined.

My overall opinions of Hillary Clinton are mixed. On one hand, I respect the level of intelligence, knowledgeability, and the fighting spirit Hillary Clinton has. On the other hand, I don’t like some of her positions on the issues and I can’t ignore the anti-Hillary fervor in the American electorate.

She has lower numbers than Trump right now. While Clinton is viewed favorably by Democrats, most people outside of the party despise her. Also, more people within the Democratic Party say she shouldn’t run again.

That leaves me to believe that she could still lose to Trump again — if he’s still in office. She might not win because people will be sick of Trump, but she could lose because voter turnout among key demographics will be depressed.

Also, Democrats should be careful what they wish for in regards to this Russia probe. Say that Trump is impeached. Do you honestly think Hillary Clinton would have a chance? She would lose to Pence for sure, because he isn’t as repulsive to conservatives (or independents, for that matter).

2. Another Campaign with Hillary Clinton or One Run by Her Old Consultants Will Be Divisive.

In 2008, Barack Obama was hit on his race. They even got Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a black woman, to get into the act with “low-key” innuendo.

That was low.

In 2016, race was used again, but so was gender and a number of dirty tactics.

In 2017, Keith Ellison was smeared because he was a Muslim. Although this was just the DNC chair race, it showed that centrists within the Democratic Party weren’t above using Islamophobia to keep progressives out of power. And it harkened back to the 2008 election when people close to HRC tried to paint Obama as a secret Muslim.

3. Another Campaign with Hillary Clinton or One Run by Her Old Consultants Might Be Disorganized.

Clinton’s two presidential campaigns were marred because of a lack of organization. Although her staffs had structure, those structures were undermined by her own indecisiveness and the egotistical free-for-all that created. The Democratic Party is suffering from this same type of problem.

It depends on who is hired, but many of the consultants the Democratic Party got mixed up with are only in it for themselves. To them, it doesn’t really matter who wins, as long as they aren’t progressives. In some cases, these consultant bastards are even defecting to help promote the Republican Party’s pro-corporate agenda.

Understand this: If progressives were to win, the consultants would lose their jobs. Democrats know this, but those at the top don’t care because they want that money. However, the party suffers as a result because greed leads to a lack of organization and enthusiasm.

4. There Were Kernels of Truth to What Donna Brazile Said About the DNC.

In particular, Clinton’s campaign was bankrolling the DNC. That control gave her unprecedented control over a political party’s national apparatus.

As a result of the agreement, HRC’s campaign decided how the DNC spent the funds raised by the joint fundraising agreement. The campaign also had the final say over who was hired by the DNC.

You should honestly ask yourself what effect that had on the entire primary process. Are you telling me that having that much control wouldn’t lead to that single candidate tipping the odds in their favor? The leaked emails already showed that the DNC acted like HRC already had the nomination, months before a single vote was cast. Her people acted like she had already won months before she officially declared her candidacy.

When you look at the party’s lack of a message and the purges at the DNC, it’s safe to say the Clintons are still running it.

5. The Clintons Don’t Fundraise Out of the Goodness of Their Hearts.

Much of what the Clintons did once Bill became president (and even before) was in preparation for a presidential run for Hillary.

And as we’ve seen, the Clintons hold grudges (it’s especially true for Hillary).The Clintons kept a list of people who were loyal or betrayed them and they have punished most of the people who refused to endorse Hillary’s run for the presidency in 2008. For example, Hillary’s never really forgiven Claire McCaskill. The situation with Kirsten Gillibrand is worth watching.

HRC’s still mad at progressives. In her newest book, she took aim at Bernie Sanders and the voters who supported him (even though most still voted for her butt in the general election).

And by the way, the Clintons never really liked Obama. He beat Hillary in 2008 and he was pretty hard on her in their debates. In all honesty, that loss still stung.

For the Clintons, there is always a price to pay and once they have their eyes on a Democrat, that person is trapped.  If the Democrats accept the money, they will have to reward the Clintons later. But if those Democrats say no, the Clintons will marginalize them. And even if the Democrats play ball, they could be thrown under the bus when convenient.

You don’t believe me? Listen to what HRC said about the DNC in May 2017 at a Recode conference. And although the Clintons couldn’t do anything to Obama, he had to pay them back by giving her a job in his administration and supporting her 2016 run.

6. Bill Clinton, Once Viewed As an Asset, Might Be One of His Wife’s Greatest Weaknesses.

Bill Clinton may still be viewed with nostalgia by many Democrats who voted for him (and those who preferred him, but otherwise couldn’t vote) back in the day, but he is now subject to increased scrutiny. For one thing, more progressives are questioning how his policies hurt people of color, the middle class, workers, the poor, and his own party. The 1994 crime bill alone has been damaging to blacks, Latinos, and the issue of human rights in the United States.

Also, more light has been shed on Bill Clinton’s history with women because of the #MeToo movement. As I said in another post, Bill Clinton presented a quandary for feminists. While it might be easy for some to ignore allegations women like Paula Jones made against him or to overlook the Monica Lewinsky affair in terms of his ability to lead, women like Juanita Broaddrick have believable stories. And Bill Clinton himself has an insatiable appetite for women.

Looking Ahead for 2024 (Kinda): Do Californians Still Want Dianne Feinstein?

I certainly don’t, but Feinstein is running for a fifth full term in 2018. If she wins and serves her fifth term, the question is, who will replace her?

Dianne Feinstein, the senior U.S. Senator from California, is a San Francisco native with an impressive political resume in some respects. Before she was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, Feinstein had served as the city’s mayor from 1978-1987.1 And before becoming mayor, Feinstein had served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1969-1978.

Feinstein’s political career was marked by a series of firsts. She served as the first female president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman to be elected the mayor of San Francisco, and the first woman to be elected as a U.S. Senator for California.  After reaching the U.S. Senate, Feinstein became the first woman to Chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (from 2009-2015).2 She was also the first woman to Chair the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.3

Again, this is impressive. But her voting record and some of her positions are a different story.

What’s Wrong with Feinstein?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was another Democrat who was mentioned in the May post focusing on Democrats who met with their angry constituents, and for good reason. Feinstein, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has shown herself to be an out-of-touch politician. She is not too concerned with the struggles of her constituents. This was shown when she went to a fundraiser held by the health industry after using Republican talking points to say she did not support single-payer.

Even before that, Feinstein turned out to be a massive hypocrite. She supported the Patriot Act in 2001 and when it was being reauthorized in 2006. She also supported the NSA’s domestic spying program. Yet she called foul when she found out that the CIA was spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee when that committee was investigating the agency.

The behavior of the CIA was illegal and Feinstein had a right to be angry about it. However, she never had that level of concern for her constituents, let alone the American people.

And when you look at Feinstein’s record, it’s understandable why people are frustrated with her.

As one of her potential 2018 opponents mentioned most of these things and said that was proof that Feinstein essentially acted like a moderate Republican.

What’s Another Concern I Have About Feinstein?

Sen. Feinstein was re-elected in 2012 and yes, is already talking about running again this year. But in all honesty, her current term should be her last. She turned 84 years old on June 22, 2017 and she is currently the oldest member of the Senate. If Feinstein wins again in 2018 and serves another full term, she will turn 91 in 2024, and this highlights one of my concerns about the Democratic Party.

As I pointed out before, the party’s leadership is aging. As I write this, Nancy Pelosi is 77, Chuck Schumer is 67, other leaders in Congress are also up in age, and the most viable presidential candidates for the party to date are approaching 70 or 80. The Democrats need to bring up younger activists and leaders.

Who Should Replace Feinstein?

There are a few Democrats who are challenging her this year, but there’s one I really like. A closer look at this race is needed, but right now, I want to talk about Alison Hartson.

Alison Hartson, a Justice Democrat, gave a great interview when she made an appearance on The Jimmy Dore Show. In particular, Hartson made a compelling case for replacing senior Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

When Hartson was asked what she stood for, she highlighted four things:

  1. Medicare-for-All
  2. Free College
  3. An Increased Minimum Wage
  4. Expanded Pre-School

Hartson went into depth about the last two items. She said that the minimum wage should be a living wage indexed for inflation, and that it may need to be higher than $15, depending on where workers live. Hartson said that pre-school should be free for people based on need and, as a former teacher, she would like to see kids enrolled as soon as possible (even as infants) in order to facilitate the drive to learn and get the best outcomes possible.

Overall, I was impressed by Hartman’s answers. I would love to have a senator like that to represent my state.

Of course, all the challengers to Feinstein have an uphill battle. Feinstein is an incumbent, she is liked by her peers, she is well-financed, and she has the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Another aspect of this race is that it is a jungle primary, meaning the top top candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will advance. Unfortunately, a state senator, Kevin de Léon, is receiving more attention than Hartson is.

A Warning for Democrats: What’s Wrong with Their Process?

Everything is wrong with their process because it consists of a top-down management of candidates and a disdain for the left.

In December, a number of Democratic congressional candidates were given a memo. Not everyone received that memo (hmm…) but those who did were instructed to sign an agreement with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which required participants to:

  • Come up with a plan to deal with sexual harassment.
  • Accept training and campaign templates.
  • Hire consultants and “professional staff” with campaign experience.
  • Agree to a “unity” event after primaries.
  • Not do anything to weaken the eventual primary winner.

This might not seem like a problem to some Democratic loyalists, but it is for the party’s long-term prospects.

Here are three issues all of this raise for me:

1. Treating Progressive Candidates Like Chopped Liver Is Incredibly Stupid.

The Democrats need to compete for as many seats as they can, but they shouldn’t be barred from challenging each other. It’s all hands on deck, even if those hands are more to the left than others.

Sure, there needs to be a respectful debate and a certain level of good sportsmanship. But there should also be a free flow of ideas in order for us to have candidates who are tested and willing to adopt the best ideas.

Instead, the party wants to control candidates, extort them, and keep them in a box to protect the worst Democratic incumbents. On some level, I get that some party leaders want to protect their pals, but what the party wants to do is undemocratic. The well-being of their constituents is far more important than politicians’ feelings.

However, the party does not see it this way. In some cases, Democrats will even promote Republicans if the Democratic candidates running aren’t centrists. I would call this hypocrisy because centrists like to talk about the ills of “purity tests,” but that was projection all along.

2. Treating Voters Like Crap Doesn’t Help the Party’s Preferred Centrist Candidates.

Even though the party is told what its base wants, the party insists on ignoring the people. To make matters worse, the party has no problem insulting those people.

If we get Hillary or anyone she approves of in 2020, we will be treated to the best behavior of her most ardent fans. (I’m being sarcastic here.) And to make matters worse, consultants will use those fans to try to bully people into voting Democratic. That would be a mistake.

Screaming at allies who disagree with you doesn’t help a candidate. Handwaving voters’ concerns doesn’t help a candidate, either.

Treating voters like adults does help. A big complaint about Hillary Clinton’s last presidential election was that she refused to listen to people to the left of her. And she failed to present a clear vision to help Americans in need. These are also valid complaints about the Democratic Party today.

However, when people made these arguments, they were called names, discredited, harassed, and accused of supporting Donald Trump. This is part of what made the last presidential election so acrimonious. If Democrats do not check this behavior, it will plague them in the midterms, in 2019, in 2020, and beyond.

3. The Party Needs to Be Honest About Its Other Shortcomings.

Owning up to mistakes and misdeeds, while taking steps to mend fences builds trust and respect. Although I am still angry at Donna Brazile because of how she behaved in 2016 and her insistence on pushing this new red-baiting, I have some respect for her for admitting what happened with the JFA and for extolling the virtues of grassroots movements. And if the Democratic Party would just admit that it has hurt its own constituents in specific ways, it would gain my respect as well.

There needs to be accountability. Yet the refusal of the party to take some measure of blame (for its policies and its bedside manner, not just the packaging) guarantees that it (and its presidential nominees) will keep making the same mistakes.


I made this series because the Democrats need to succeed this year. However, they run the risk of squandering their chances (and making any majorities they may win smaller) if they try to keep things too close to the vest. While the party’s leadership hates to be challenged, it risks alienating the people it wants to vote for its candidates.

The party should be questioned. Even well-known Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein should be questioned. And the fact that there are Democratic primary challenges means that something is wrong, but the problem is not with the challengers themselves.

Well, now that I’m done with this side quest, I need to finish up another series, and my message is much harsher.


  1. Dianne Feinstein became mayor after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. As mayor, Feinstein balanced nine budgets in a row and was named the nation’s “Most Effective Mayor” by City and State Magazine.
  2. As Chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee, “Feinstein oversaw the passage of six consecutive intelligence authorization bills and the release of a key bipartisan report on the Benghazi attacks.”
  3. Feinstein held that position as a result of her chairmanship of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee during the 110th Congress. During that time, she presided over President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.


(February 10, 2018): Before, I wrote that Dianne Feinstein would be up for re-election in 2022. That was a mistake. Apparently, although Feinstein’s fellow senator from California, Kamala Harris, was elected in 2016, Feinstein was re-elected four years prior. That means Feinstein’s seat is up for re-election in 2018. Of course, I will not be voting for her.

Have any thoughts on the subject? Time’s yours.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.