A couple years ago I got involved with a cool little cannabis company. It was retail, and very early stage, but it had a ton of character and was being done really, really well. As I was preparing them for a capital raise, I had to create a quick comparison with an existing business that others would recognize. We landed on, ‘the young Starbucks of cannabis’. I figured that if I was going to make a bold claim of that nature, I had better know that company inside and out. Part of that was reading Howard Schultz’s book, Pour Your Heart Into It.
I actually listened to it while on a mini-road trip and I was immediately a fan of the guy. He had true humble beginnings. His path did not lack adversity. And his success did not cost him his humility. In hearing how he approached the obstacles he faced throughout his career, you could tell that he was a person of integrity and strong values. Not just a smart person, but the kind of person who uses their smarts to try and make life better for others.
When Donald Trump ran for president, a lot of people were saying that getting a business mind into the White House was a great idea and that Donald Trump was an ideal candidate. I think that someone who truly understands the fundamentals of business is capable of running an organization of any shape or size. I also think that those who are most capable of running a government are not in politics. I had actually been hoping to see a great business mind in the White House for years but I also knew that Donald Trump was not that person. His approach to building and running businesses (into bankruptcy) was not transferable to building and running a government. I still think that Hillary would’ve been a far more competent and far less corrupt leader than Trump, but it still shows that the American voter is looking for a change from the status quo. They can sense that the talent pool within the political system is thin and that our best and brightest operate in the private sector.
Over the last 3 years or so, I’ve paid a great deal of attention to American politics. Far more than I ever had in my life. And in order to keep up, I had to learn a ton about how things work. And like many of us, it led me to a place where I wanted help create change for the better. I think Howard Schultz has ended up there as well. He’s been asked about running for office various times over the years and in most cases, he’s suggested that he’s interested but not that interested. My impression is that he was motivated to make the world a better place but that he would rather do that through Starbucks and his charitable work than attempt to navigate the corrupt landscape of politics. But that all changed when Trump came along. Schultz sees what I see, and it means that his sense of responsibility to make the world a better place now weighs more heavily on him than his desire to stay out of politics.
When I say that both Trump and Clinton were terrible candidates, people ask me who I would vote for or who I would want to run. For the last two years, I’ve been saying Howard Schultz. The guy actually grew up in the projects so he knows what it means to come from humble beginnings and what it takes to rise up out of those circumstances. In Starbucks, he built a world-class organization that made a name for itself by treating its employees really well. As an individual, he’s demonstrated that he’s a person of character and integrity. And the bonus, if he ran, I was pretty sure it would be as an independent.
Well, a couple days ago, Schultz was interviewed on the news and he told the audience that he was considering a run in 2020. Fuck ya. Not just that, but that he was going to run as an independent and a centrist. He called out both parties for doing more politicking than governing and I expected no less from the guy. As a real life billionaire, he’s capable of funding his own campaign and doesn’t need to hitch himself to any special interests. And that seems to be ruffling some feathers.
First you had Trump that managed to embarrass himself more effectively in one tweet than any dig from Schultz would have. Trump started by saying that Schultz didn’t have the guts to run for president. Weird flex considering that if Schultz does run, he starts the game 1 – 0 against Trump. Then Trump takes a shot at Schultz’s intelligence, claiming that he himself is the smartest person in America. Meanwhile, what Trump was referencing was when Schultz said that he’s not always the smartest person in the room. From what I’ve observed, this is what smart people say when they’re being modest and it’s often because they’re smart enough to spent time with even smarter people. Finally, Trump tries to wrap it up by establishing dominance, asking if Schultz has paid him his rent for the Starbucks location inside Trump tower. Cringe-worthy.
What I saw from Trump was expected. Trump’s tactics are reminiscent of a bully on a playground. He starts with, “you don’t have the guts to play here”. Then he teases him and calls him stupid. Then he brags about something that’s clearly a lie. Then he makes play for his lunch money. Straight off the playground. And if Schultz has any political strategists already on board, they’re loving it. Trump plays the role of the bully well, but he’s a shadow of himself when it doesn’t work. It’s also why I don’t think you should protect kids from bullying as much as you should prepare them to overcome it. Schultz was no stranger to bullies growing up and has dealt with bullies of all shapes and sizes in the private sector. If someone of Trump’s character is easy pickings for someone like me, Schultz is going to eat him alive. I really do think that of all the potential candidates that may run against Trump, Trump would fear Schultz the most. Fortunately for Trump, there’s a good chance he won’t make it to 2020.
While that was Trump’s reaction, the republican reaction has been more muted. I don’t think they know what to say just yet. The republican national committee seems to have thrown their full weight behind Trump which seems a bit suspicious given his current poll numbers and impending proceedings. I guess we’ll see how that turns out. But either way, right wing media has been more focused on the democrats response to Schultz’s announcement than anything.. and perhaps rightfully so.
The Democrat’s response to Schultz looking into a 2020 presidential run has been a giant, steaming pile of horse shit. Every democrat that I’ve seen speak on this, including some top brass, has been strongly against Schultz running for president. As they’ll tell you, it has almost nothing to do with his policies or his credentials, and everything with him running as an independent. As they put it, the greatest concern is defeating Donald Trump and by introducing a popular independent candidate, you risk ‘splitting the anti-Trump vote’. They’re afraid that Donald Trump has 40% of the voter base on lock, and that if you split the remaining 60% of voters between Schultz and a democrat candidate, you end up with another 4 years of Trump. Fuck that.
From what I understand, one of the biggest flaws in American politics is a 2 party system. It’s an effective duopoly of American democracy. One in which *both* parties have demonstrated that they are deeply corrupt and beholden to special interest groups. One of the best things we could do for democracy is to have elected representatives who voted exclusively on what their constituents want, rather than voting along party lines or voting for special interests on promises of future campaign contributions. This change isn’t only grass roots, in large organizations, it happens from the top down. But how would we accomplish that it costs a billion dollars to run for president and most people can only access that kind of capital as a democrat or republican candidate? 99.9% can’t, and that’s the point. That’s why it’s a duopoly. That’s why every president in the last however many years has been produced by one of two organizations. It’s why no matter who’s in office, nothing ever seems to change. And we’re now at a point where it all desperately needs to change. And the democrats are now the ones trying to stand in the way.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened either. This is literally what happened with Bernie Sanders in 2016. Bernie was a better candidate than Hillary and he was certainly a better candidate than Trump. The democrats thought Hillary was a stronger candidate and did what they could to give her the party’s nomination. Considering that Bernie is an independent, I wonder if someone from the democrats approached him before he decided to run and encouraged him to run as a democrat instead of as an independent. You know, because of how important it was to not split the anti-trump vote.
Things are a bit different this time though. Trump is the dumpster fire that everyone predicted and it’s left the republicans in a tight spot. Trump has solidified about 20% of voters into a cult of personality who, right now, would follow him off a cliff. As long as Trump stays out of jail, keeps yelling at immigrants, and the economy keeps growing, he’s probably their only candidate for 2020. Meanwhile, democrats had their blue wave during the midterm, and bunch of new blood in congress, and Pelosi is just starting to flex her muscles. They’re primed for a big comeback in 2020 with a broad selection of candidates from career politicians to career politicians. As far as they’re concerned, 2020 is theirs to lose. The problem with that though, is that this isn’t about them. It’s about the country. And the people. And the democratic process. And they’re treating it like trying to win a big, 4 year government contract. Fuck that.
Right now, my full weight is behind Schultz. This notion that we should avoid putting our best leaders forward because it might reduce the chances of a democrat candidate beating a republican candidate sound remarkably undemocratic. First and foremost, both political parties are playing divisive politics and catering to the more vocal and extreme ends of their base. Most of us are not represented by these individuals and together, we represent the silent majority. We are people who might lean left or right, but generally speaking, hold a balanced view. It’s people who are here that realize that good and bad ideas can be found on either end of the political spectrum. And that despite all our differences, we have far more in common with one another. Someone needs to step up for the silent majority.. and represent reason.. and common sense.. and community.. and being good to one another again. Right now I think Schultz is our best chance at giving those people a voice.
The second reason, which should be obvious, is that Schultz has just as much of a chance to take votes off of the republican candidate as it would with the democrat one. Most people who voted for Trump did so because he was a challenge to Washington’s status quo. They wanted an outsider with a background in business to come and shake things up. They wanted it so desperately that they didn’t bother looking too close when Trump said he was exactly what they were looking for. If Trump goes down in flames, which I bet he will.. his base sure as hell won’t be voting for a rank and file democrat.. but I could certainly see them voting for someone like Schultz. Someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the ridiculous politics of the left, I think that’s going to mean a lot for them. Someone who can go on to Fox News and lay down the boom as a self-made billionaire who was the CEO of a fortune 500 company. I think there’s a strong contingency in the Trump base who would love a guy who did all that. And if they had someone they trusted to root for, who was also telling us that we all gotta get along with one another if we’re going to make any progress… I think things get a lot better.
Third, and perhaps the biggest reason.. is dishonesty. You have the democrat brass coming out of the wood work sternly telling Schultz not to run because it’ll improve the chances of Trump being elected. Bullshit. You don’t want Schultz to run because it’ll decrease the chances of a democrat candidate taking office. And not just in 2020. If Schultz gets in there and does a good job, he’s getting another 4 years. And within that 8 year period, as we learn the lessons of identity politics and learn to embrace our individuality… what happens to the relevancy of the two-party system? How many others run as independents? How many of us in hindsight want nothing to do with the political tactics of the democrats and republicans? Howard Schultz winning the 2020 election could quite possibly be the death of the 2 party system in America and that could easily be the best thing to happen to American politics in the last 100 years.