Remember when the CEO of Starbucks said he wanted billionaires to be referred to as “people of means” and decided to run for President? Wow, what a time to be alive.
Howard Schultz, who is running for President of the United States as an independent in 2020, is a billionaire without a cause. His only messages, as put forth by an advisor on “Meet the Press”, are a lame dig at Trump – “make America a better place,” and a weak harkening back to the glibness of Obama: “risk the imagination of a new type of possibility.”
These phrases are emblematic of a campaign that has bought its way into the conversation by a man whose idealistic hubris of fixing everything by doing nothing will be his downfall.
The main problem with Schultz’s campaign is his reliance upon the vagueness of “radical centrism,” a political philosophy which posits that most people situate themselves somewhere between two hyper partisan parties, and that the solutions to political problems lie in the molding of these two incredibly contrasting ideologies. The campaign’s belief in the popularity of centrism relies upon an ungrounded theory: the growing number of voters registered “Unaffiliated” means voters are becoming more moderate.
While it is true that more people are starting to not officially identify with either party, they are in actuality becoming more partisan and tend to lean more leftward, towards a Bernie Sanders-style Social Democracy. This can be seen in the recent elections of more progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who replaced centrist Democrats, and the starting of more presidential campaigns with a commitment to policies like Medicare for all.
What little Schultz actually stands against is not as much the rise of Trumpist nationalism and xenophobia, but rather this leftward shift of American politics. This is because he understands what a more progressive government means for him – a higher marginal tax rate scraping the froth off his $4.6 billion made from overpriced coffee. In a sense he is more comfortable with Trump, because, under his administration, existing power structures and trickle-down tax policies stay in place, and both continue to benefit him tremendously.
When asked on CNBC on Jan. 28 if he would support undoing recent federal tax cuts and raising corporate tax rates, he said, “I don’t want to talk in the hypothetical about what I would do if I was president.” When given the fact that a Medicare-for-all system would save the American people $2 trillion over 10 years, according to studies by the Mercator Institute and others, Schultz simply said, “this is not true,” and called the plan “unAmerican.”
In a Jan. 30 interview on CNN, he said he left the Democratic Party because it started “shifting so far left to progressive policies that are as false as … Trump telling the American people … that the Mexicans were going to pay for the wall.” Not only is this a false equivalency, between policies of social uplift and the building of a wall to keep out otherness, it is flat out incorrect. Single-payer healthcare, tuition-free universities, and public housing and transportation have all existed in most European countries with great success.
There is one thing he gets right: American politics is broken – it’s not because politicians disagree dramatically on policy, but rather that moneyed interests have corrupted political processes against the will of the people. Even Meghan McCain on “The View” told him that, “You have to be a billionaire to run as an independent.”
Schultz responded, “you can’t buy the presidency,” and laughter from the panel and crowd followed.
People can see right through Schultz’s charade – he paid his way into relevance, and he is the problem he refuses to identify.
All of this emptiness from the campaign has resulted in a 4 percent approval rating and an unfortunate social media response. Every tweet posted by Schultz has been ratioed, meaning the negative responses to them have outnumbered the amount of retweets and likes.
This included a punny response from @EJDuboisL7444: “Dear Barista-in-Chief: We’ve already bean here. Not to suggest you’re all froth and no substance. But this year we’ll be looking for candidates with a latte more government experience — one who’s percolated through the grinder…”
On CBS This Morning, Schultz said, “I must be doing something right to garner this much attention.”
Aaron Strain is a Hutchinson sophomore in Media and Mass Communication