Schultz 2020!

Good God Howard Schultz is an idiot.  First of all, I do think political science/journalist/liberal twitter is way over-freaking out.  I just don’t see this guy siphoning off enough Democratic votes to get Trump re-elected.  I know it is an exciting and fun story for a billionaire to be running for president (Perot certainly did make things more interesting in 1992), but people need to relax on the apocalyptic takes.

The part that really kills me, though, is the way that so many people are successful in one area and are convinced that they are a genius in everything.  Life does not work that way.  Donald Trump is a terrific marketer of the Trump brand.  He is a horrible president.  Daniel Snyder was great at making a telecom start-up; he’s an abysmal NFL owner.  For one, many of the skills involved in the original success don’t translate as well as well as the individuals are convinced that they do.  And, for another, if you have an amazing, outsized success, you almost assuredly benefited from a huge amount of luck, in addition to whatever skill, genius, and hard-work you might have brought.  Chances are, you are not going to have that same great luck in the new endeavor.

Chait with a really, really thorough and good take.  My favorite parts:

Billionaire coffee-shop mogul Howard Schultz is seriously thinking of running for president as an independent. Schultz appears to be one of those rich people who has confused his success in one field with a general expertise in every other field that interests him. His apparently sincere belief that he can be elected president is the product of a sincere civic-minded commitment to the public good and an almost comic failure to grasp how he might accomplish this. That confusion is probably being spread by his hired staffers, whose financial incentive, conscious or otherwise, is to encourage him to embark on a costly political fiasco…

The independent label is a myth. Schultz believes that the large cohort of Americans who identify as “independents” indicates a market for a centrist candidate positioned between the two parties. “What we know, factually, is that over 40 percent of the electorate is either a registered Independent or currently affiliates themselves as an Independent,” he says, “Because the American people are exhausted. Their trust has been broken. And they are looking for a better choice.”

That is not factual.

The center is not what Schultz thinks it is. “Republicans and Democrats alike — who no longer see themselves as part of the far extreme of the far right and the far left — are looking for a home,” he tells the New York Times. What would this center look like? In Schultz’s mind, it would combine his social liberalism with a desire to cut social insurance programs. “We can get the 4 percent growth,” he said last year, “we can go after entitlements, and we can do the right thing — if we have the right people in place.”

In reality, there is no constituency for cutting these programs in either party. A 2017 Pew survey found 15 percent of Republicans, and 5 percent of Democrats support cuts to Medicare, while 10 percent of Republicans and 3 percent of Democrats support cuts to Social Security.

survey of the 2016 electorate by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group
plotted voters by social and economic views. What it found is that many voters have socially conservative and fiscally liberal views — those are the voters who were attracted to Trump’s combination of nativism and promises to maintain social programs and provide universal health care. Vanishingly few voters have socially liberal and fiscally conservative beliefs…

And plenty more good stuff that shows Schultz is amazingly ignorant about how politics actually works.  And far to ignorant on such things to get anywhere near the presidency.

And Crooked’s Jon Lovett with an open letter to Schultz:

Let’s dive in. A year before the first votes are cast in Iowa, you are assuming that the outcome of that process will be unacceptable. You must believe that a) there are tens of millions of people in America who are clamoring for your politics but b) you couldn’t persuade them to vote for you in a Democratic primary. It’s a real pickle.

So what are your politics? In your 60 Minutes interview, Scott Pelley peppered you with policy questions, and on one after another you described a mainstream Democratic position. On immigration, on climate change, on tax policy, you stake out completely ordinary liberal critiques of Trump. Nothing special, nothing new. So what is this great divergence that suggests that you, a lifelong Democrat, have no choice but to run as an independent? That you need to take your ball and go home?

It’s that even though everyone deserves health care, Democratic proposals are too expensive—Medicare for All is a partisan fantasy, our version of Trump’s wall. It fits with what you’ve said previously—that neither party cares enough about fiscal responsibility. Earlier this year you told CNBC that “the greatest threat domestically to the country is this $21 trillion debt hanging over… future generations.” This is the substance of your centrism, the appeal you believe will draw the independents you view as your natural constituency—the socially liberal, fiscally conservative political homeless American voter.

But I have bad news: while there are many voters like this who nod their heads in Aspen and Davos, and who form the base of the Democratic donor class and the consultants who share their politics—cosmopolitan, tolerant, capitalist, constitutionally moderate and rarely touched by poverty and grinding inequality—those nodding heads do not represent a coalition. In fact, it’s the opposite. What we have learned in recent years—and why you see a move toward more left policies in Democratic circles —is that the politically homeless voter is opposite to what you describe: fiscally liberal and socially moderate

You want to help your country? Help us defeat the propaganda machine that enables Trump and the worst elements of the Republican Party. Help us push back against corporate interests arrayed against action on climate change. Fund local journalism. Fund scholarships. Fund voter registration and protection. And, if you believe in the case you’d make as an independent candidate, join the Democratic primary and make that case before the voters you’d need to win. Put some skin in the game. Put some time on the trail. Because unlike money, time and skin are as limited for you as they are for the rest of us.

I believe you love this country. I believe you believe in a noble conception of your motivations. So my hope is that the criticisms reach you, that you talk to smart people you do not pay, that you do not show the same kind of hubris and selfishness and ego that led Trump to believe he alone could fix it. [emphasis mine] In other words, I hope you show some patriotism and get your head out of your ass. That’s it from me, Howard. If you want to talk more, just send a note to the baristas at Sunset and Gower.

Anyway, if Schultz is remotely as smart as he thinks he is (and in 60 Minutes he talked about knowing when he’s not the smartest guy in the room and listening to others)… he’ll actually listen to the resounding criticism.  And, if not, he’s not remotely qualified to be president.  Whatever happens, I’m going to go on record with a (rare, for me) prediction: Howard Schultz will not prevent a Democrat from defeating Donald Trump.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Schultz 2020!

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Just what the country needs – a businessman with no political experience. It’s working so well now.

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