Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 26, 2015

How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

I try to shy away from national politics but with the presidential campaigns beginning to heat up, I wanted to share these thoughts about Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Hillary Clinton

Madam Secretary

First, let’s start with the assumption that Hillary and Jeb are running parallel campaigns. Both are well-funded insiders, with close connections to previous presidents, and are viewed suspiciously by their own base for their moderate positions (Bush on Common Core and Immigration, Clinton on siding with Wall Street). Both have a close inner circle of advisors and are planning elaborate campaign roll-outs with the best staff money can buy.

On the surface, they seem to be very similar candidates however they will be received completely differently because of how the parties interact with their base.

In politics, the “base” is the group of people who form your most ardent supporters. They are the die-hard volunteers, the passionate doorbellers and small donors and that one guy who shares EVERY SINGLE environmental petition on his facebook page (thanks, Jerry).

A presidential candidate needs support from their base to win – without it, they can only limp along, struggling to generate enthusiasm. John Kerry was not beloved by the Democratic base. John McCain was not popular with the base until he brought on Sarah Palin, then he was able to pack arenas with cheering supporters.

However, while the people at the top need the base, they do not necessarily love them – and this is where the political parties differ and it explains why Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee and Jeb Bush will not.

The Democratic leadership disdains their most passionate supporters, the Republicans are actually afraid of their base.

I’m not talking about local parties, I’m talking about the upper echelons of power. The Democrats view their base as dirty, loud hippies that make unreasonable demands. “$15/hr minimum wage? Are you kidding me?” They say at their cocktail parties, “What’s next, legalizing marijuana and free housing for the homeless?” The democratic party leadership knows that even if they ignore, insult or marginalize their supporters, they still will show up to vote for the centrist Democrat because the Republican is scarier.

Fmr Gov. Jeb Bush

Fmr Gov. Jeb Bush

On the other side of fence, the Republicans fear their base. After several prominent incumbents were defeated in the primary by Tea Party upstarts, the GOP leadership has been in a defensive crouch (see: Boehner, John), constantly afraid that the rabid hordes will storm their gates and throw them out.

This is why Hillary can remain comfortable in her centrist positions, while Jeb will go through Romney-esque contortions trying to persuade his base that he is the second coming of Ted Cruz. As a result, Hillary will be seen from a position of strength, the national media always likes it when politicians stand up to their friends while Jeb will be seen as caving to the tea party right, a position of weakness.

Does this mean that Progressives are doomed to irrelevance? Absolutely not. One of the other key differences between the two parties is that the Democrats are actually interested in legislating, while the Republicans haven’t brought any serious legislative proposals to the national stage since President Bush tried to privatize Social Security in 2005.

As a result, the Democratic base has passed a number of strong legislation in the last decade. While they are unable to push a truly progressive candidate to forefront, they have passed a strong financial consumer protection agency, the stimulus package which included the largest single investment in education and green energy in a generation and on the state level, they have legalized marijuana in a handful of states, and passed marriage equality in all but thirteen.

There is still plenty to be done, progressives have lost ground on women’s health issues nationwide, for instance, and I strongly doubt we will ever see a true progressive from the Democratic base as the Presidential nominee. However, the Republicans will be able to bend their eventual nominee to their will. Will that give them electoral success in 2016? I don’t think so, but it will be revealing about the continual evolution of our political parties.



  1. WOW “I try to shy away from national politics” You better stick with that one Riley! You just won some kind of award recently didn’t you? You better give it back after this opinion piece.

    • What did you disagree with Rick?

      • Don’t feed the trolls, Riley…

      • Well Riley,
        Let’s start with how you throw the progressive thinking Democrats right out the door.
        Some wonder why the party can’t fill PCO positions around the nation. I believe it’s the way the local leaderships treat forward thinking proactive individuals who aren’t promoting centrist garbage that has been peddled by the Democratic Leadership who “disdains ” Their so-called most passionate supporters as you have stated here.
        I Agree with some of your assertions Riley but unless you take them beyond the obvious they do more damage then good.
        The working (poor) of this country are all progressive if they know it or not.
        Yes even Republicans Riley!
        It’s the moneyed two party system in this country that is maintaining the anti-populist grip on our people from policys at home and abroad.
        To allow a corporate sponsored candidate, from either party, to dictate direction to our country is nothing more than a slow death to our democracy.

        “The democratic party leadership knows that even if they ignore, insult or marginalize their supporters, they still will show up to vote for the centrist Democrat because the Republican is scarier.”

        Riley, wouldn’t you say that’s a pretty crappy way to lead a party much less the nation?
        This is been “Business As Usual” for the Democratic leadership for many years. I believe it’s way past time to start pushing back on this garbage.
        Do I think “the base” has the courage? I’m not sure. If County and legislative district meetings around the country are similar to the ones we had here Whatcom County it’s going to be real rough!
        So many people in the country are sick of the lesser of two evils choice (a centrist candidate). It truly is time that we run populist candidates who will actually help to build up the country instead of selling it out to the highest bidder. Wall Street darlings like Hillary Clinton are only going to make things worse for all of us. I think we should be talking about how we fix this broken system instead of “this diatribe of opinion and speculation” that you have put forth in your article.
        Let’s get down to basics.
        Here are some of my points.
        #1. On November 4, 2014 we the people surrendered our democracy to a corporate takeover of our system of government; run by and for Wall Street.
        #2. The majority of Americans did not vote! Less than 37% of those registered voted.
        #3. Most of our leaders are bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists.
        #4. Corporate money owns our government from the Congress to the White House and yes, even the Citizens United Supreme Court.
        #5. Corporate media – TV and radio – etc., the system of persuasion or should I say propaganda; control how most of our people make judgments.
        #6. We the People let the greatest democracy in this world die at the polls!
        #7. The media have already decided who we can vote for president in 2016. It’s Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush or worse Koch Jr. Scott Walker.
        In a country over 300 million people a Clinton or Bush are the only ones qualified to be our next president?
        Note: Corporations cheer our veterans on to fight their wars for profit. Then they outsource our jobs to countries like Communist China so when they come home they cannot find a decent paying job. So much for Corporate Patriotism!
        “As a result, the Democratic base has passed a number of strong legislation in the last decade. While they are unable to push a truly progressive candidate to forefront, they have passed a strong financial consumer protection agency, the stimulus package which included the largest single investment in education and green energy in a generation and on the state level, they have legalized marijuana in a handful of states, and passed marriage equality in all but thirteen.”
        Your points here may be valid but in the grand scheme it has just helped a handful of special interests, important they may be, and wedge issues which do not help the majority of Americans.
        The Affordable Care Act has been a good thing in certain ways. One of the best points of the ACA was to eliminate the pre-existing condition that these scumbag insurance companies were using excluding human beings from getting insurance. On the other hand it has been a boon for the health insurance industry who is going to profit billions if not trillions of dollars in the long run. A great deal of that money has been taken out of the Medicare fund to help pay for the affordable Celtic care act. Not a good idea! If you want to challenge that statement do it like this please. Call any Democratic representative and ask them this question “is money being taken out of the Medicare fund to help pay for the affordable care act?” I would love to hear you get a straight answer. If you do please let me know with that representatives name, and if you would be so kind, their phone number. I would like to see that put on the record somewhere.
        What would you say the top issues, the absolutely most important issues are to the American public today? Same-sex marriage? Possibly. Legalizing weed? Maybe. Consumer protection, very important. Stimulus package, even if it wasn’t enough it was needed.
        Riley, I would hope that the top issues we need to look at are things that are getting people killed on a daily basis, things that are destroying our environment and making it harder for people to get through life without getting sick.
        1 Ending Wars
        2 Outsourcing Jobs
        3 Global Environmental Devastation, Fracking, Wars (again), Fossil Fuel Exploitation, and so on.
        4 A Real Healthcare Solution – National Healthcare/ Medicare for all. Ending the insurance companies abuse of standing between a patient and their doctor!
        These are only four of my top 10.
        I believe the only way we can start achieving good goals is by holding leadership accountable and ending this lesser of two evils garbage with this centrist crap that has proven in the last two decades to be an utter failure. Look around our we much better off today than we were 20 years ago?
        Unlimited money in elections for candidates must end. Get politically involved and get rid of our corporate run system.
        Register to vote – educate yourselves politically and vote! We can once again restore our democracy as the best in the world. That’s about it. Stand up to this lousy leadership that gives you no choice at election time. Takeover these legislative districts and counties and demand that representation is for the people and not the corporate few.
        Good luck.
        By the way I want to give Shane Roth a shout out. I have heard you speak before Shane and have agreed with you on many of your points. I think it’s rather abject of you to throw up the “don’t feed the trolls” statement. So try and be better prepared with your cheap shots because I can hold my own against anyone in the Democratic Party.

      • Well said Rick! I am proud to call you a friend and a fellow denizen of Ferndale!

      • Thank You Walter

      • It is a Liberal Love Fest! 🙂

  2. I agree with your central premise that Clinton has a better chance of surviving the primary gauntlet than Bush. And I wholeheartedly agree that on the whole, Democrats actually care about policy and fixing things. You can’t fix things though if you don’t have a majority.

    I also think its important that progressives ensure they have a voice in the national debate. Is that Bernie Sanders?

    • Marxist Bernie? LOL! 🙂

  3. Riley,

    I agreed with you until “Does this mean that Progressives are doomed to irrelevance? Absolutely not. One of the other key differences between the two parties is that the Democrats are actually interested in legislating”.

    Why do we have to be smothered by new laws on a continual basis? Whose sole purpose is to transfer the power from the average citizen to the Ruling Class in Washington, DC. Both leaderships are guilty of this but the Democrats are MORE guilty.

  4. Hillary and Jeb are both losers in 2016.

    I would like to see a Ben Carson vs. Elizabeth Warren match up because they are both “honest” candidates.


  5. Uh, let’s see. Center candidates that run parallel campaigns, all the while alienating their base of passionate supporters. Yep, sounds like local campaigns too. I would differ on your assessment of Hillary’s strength vs. Jeb’s weakness, however. It seems to me that Hillary can dump on her so-called “progressive” supporters because they are used to it and will hold their noses and vote for her anyway. The rightwing whackos won’t do this.

    As for “Does this mean that Progressives are doomed to irrelevance?” No, they are not doomed. They actually work very hard to be irrelevant. It is a full-time job buying the lies of “hip” capitalists, corporate greenwashers, NGO’s and clueless do-gooders.

    • Go get them Progs Walter!

  6. On a national level, you can’t trust either party. They are all rich and old, and most of them are corrupt. Corporations dominate national politics. I totally agree that we will never have a “progressive” Democratic nominee. I highly doubt that there will be one from the west coast. Over here, we are “too radical.” Instead, conservatives like Hilary Clinton are nominated.

    Personally, I don’t think that Jeb Bush or Hilary Clinton will be nominated. Clinton is almost more of a celebrity at this point than a political figure, and she is getting kind of old. Or, at least, she wouldn’t be a very good choice to nominate. Yes, there are a bunch of people from Vermont that want to run, but they are all so-called “radicals.” This means that a dark horse like Barack Obama in 2008 will be nominated by the Democrats.

    As for Jeb Bush, many Republicans don’t want “another Bush.” Many didn’t like George Bush’s big government policies, like the All Children Left Behind Act and the Patriot Act.

    But who knows what is actually going on. National issues are so manipulated by media and corruption that we can’t really know what is going on. That is why I follow local government more.

  7. A big reason that the party bases who are not happy with the nominees their party offers still vote for them is that the Democrats and Republicans conspire to keep third parties out of the debates. Many would not hold their noses and vote if they were able to see a Jill Stein or a Gary Johnson on the same stage as the Major party nominees. But, the big boys will not allow that. They don’t want another Perot thing. Run, Bernie, Run. Let’s have some real discussion of issues left behind. My Ideal matchup is Sanders-Warren vs. Paul-Cruz

    I in no way felt that Riley was defending the Democratic Party nationally., Au contraire. I thought that you perhaps finessed the issue of the local parties and their treatment of progressives, though. By and large, I think most local Democrats would agree with what Rick LeFave says. In fact, if Rick Larsen said the same things, they would applaud it.

    • How about Sanders-Warren vs. Carson-Walker?

  8. Bob, you make a good point about viable 3rd parties. The absolute grasp of the current two parties run all system ensures corruption in both, along with the best representation MONEY CAN BUY. On the other hand, 3rd parties shoot themselves in the foot because they lay quiet in non-presidential years, then try to push a presidential agenda. It takes time and build up to make any party viable, and 3rd parties have to count on local offices and then state – and corresponding building of reputations as being actually functional and representative of their constituencies before they can step on the national stage with any real credibility.

  9. In a comment to a repost of this article on NWCitizen, I wrote the following:


    The sad truth is that this discussion only has validity insofar as it demonstrates the bankrupt system. Who does what to whom within or between parties is theater and the American public responds to theater be it MSNBC, Fox, Limbaugh, Colmes, Maddow, NY Times, Washington Post, etc. This can only be understood by grasping the fact that our government at all levels now marches to the beat of the oligarchic drum. We even see that played out here on the local level when the developers get the pass and the tax breaks and play off one jurisdiction against another for favors. And the money wins.

    Chris Hedges writes, “Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society. Karl Polanyi in “The Great Transformation” warned that without heavy government regulation and oversight, unfettered and unregulated capitalism degenerates into a Mafia capitalism and a Mafia political system. A self-regulating market, Polanyi writes, turns human beings and the natural environment into commodities. This ensures the destruction of both society and the natural environment. The ecosystem and human beings become objects whose worth is determined solely by the market. They are exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs. A society that no longer recognizes that the natural world and life have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, commits collective suicide. Such societies cannibalize themselves. This is what we are undergoing. Literally.”

    Therefore, these analyses of inter or intra party workings divert our attention from the reality of our situation and prevent us from focusing on the massive problem that confronts us. I would direct readers here to your blog version of this article where in the comments Rick LaFave speaks to some of the reality.

    We drift along thinking that some miracle, be it by prayer or audacious hope (how is that working for you?) or technology or some political savior, will wrest us from doom. Not bloody likely.

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