Howard Schultz, the multi-billionaire founder of Starbucks, doesn’t seem to have a friend left in the world. On Monday, the ex-CEO of the world’s largest coffee syndicate announced his intentions to run for the presidency as 2020’s “centrist independent” rejecting the two-party dichotomy — and nobody is buying it. As polls show the average voters are rejecting the false song of President Donald Trump’s elitism, even corporate oligarchs of Washington’s swamp can’t get behind their own #resistence billionaire in need.
“I will run as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system,” Schultz announced on 60 Minutes earlier this week, stopping short of a commitment to run. “I look at both parties. We see extremes on both sides. Well, we are sitting today with approximately $21.5 trillion of debt, which is a reckless example, not only of Republicans, but of Democrats, as well, as a reckless failure of their constitutional responsibility. We’re living at a most fragile time, not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics.”
As Schultz prepares to host a book tour across the nation (a cliche move of exposure nearly every candidate utilises), a recent report from CNBC reveals several Democratic financiers and strategists — including significant members of the Wall Street establishment — are already criticizing his potential campaign as an inevitable failure. In fact, it’s reached the point where one could almost picture their snobby grins and highbrow swirling of wine as they dismiss their own. After all, it’s not uncommon for billionaires to play wolf pit in their games of oligarchic competition.
“This is a pathetic vanity project,” said Robert Zimmerman, a lead Democratic fundraising bundler, in a prepared statement to the publication. “Howard Schultz better start laying off the espresso. I would not take lightly the inevitable hashtags popping up saying ‘no Starbucks, no Schultz’.”
He was followed by Orin Kramer, the New York hedge fund manager known for his financial backing of President Barack Obama and former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during their own presidential campaigns, who told CNBC he believes that a Schultz independent candidacy would “anger urban voters” who are tired of out-of-touch rich socialites like Trump. “Wouldn’t want to own Starbucks if he did it,” Kramer said in an interview, believing the run would result in a boycott campaign. “Starbucks is disproportionately in urban areas, and 40% of urban areas hate this [Trump] guy. This guy is giving Trump a gift, and there is no contrary interpretation.”
Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of State under Obama, warned the billionaire he could be perceived as another electoral spoiler in the way people perceive Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Ralph Nader and Ross Perot in years past. “He has every right to do what he wants to do, but make no mistake this is exceptionally unhelpful and could have dire consequences,” Nides told CNBC. “He will pull votes maybe from moderate Democrats, and who knows what will happen to left-leaning Democrats.”
“I have two words for Howard Schultz on a potential run for president as an independent: Just don’t,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski speaking to The Atlantic. “Howard Schultz running as an independent isn’t about bringing anyone together. It’s about one person: Howard Schultz. An independent bid for president has not worked in the past, and it won’t work this time. Howard Schultz could secure Trump’s re-election. This worst-case scenario keeps me up at night. I want to spend our resources fighting for Democrats up and down the ballot, not fending off Howard Schultz’s independent bid.”
The once “lifelong Democrat” even drew fire from his fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg (D-NY), the former mayor of New York City also eyeing a shot for the highest office in the land under the Democratic nomination, who wrote on Twitter that Schultz is running the risk of splitting the anti-Trump vote heading into the general election. “Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the Electoral College system,” Bloomberg wrote, “there is simply no way an independent can win. In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the president. That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can’t afford to run it now.”
The final blow among the donor class came from Jane Hartley, the long-time party financier who some believe brought her position as former U.S. ambassador to France under Obama, who was rather cold in her criticism: “This is just bad for the Democrats. In the end, I don’t think he will do it.”
You’d wonder if Schultz 2020 had even one supporter behind him.
Ultimately, the publicity stunt did catch the ear of one confident, high-profile, egotistical billionaire representative seeking to maintain a stranglehold on power. “Howard Schultz doesn’t have the guts to run for [The White House],” wrote President Trump on Twitter during the week. “I just watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the smartest person. Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!”
In case you’re still unconvinced Trump wants to be the sole enabler of Schultz, a report from The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman confirms Trump told attendees of his Trump International Hotel fundraiser event he was desperate to get Schultz into the race “because he thinks he’ll help him” split the vote. Schultz, soon to be entrenched in a three-month pontification tour promoting books as a pretend presidential candidate, doesn’t seem to be taking the obvious hints from the electorate, the donor class and the world’s most powerful politician craving his controlled opposition.
It’s easy to passively predict this bid is fruitless — which isn’t an unsafe bet assuming Schultz places his country above one’s ego — though it remains best for we the people to examine the prospects of the man whose resistance could bring about the unbelievable: Trump 2020.
The backlash against Schultz among the donor class places the man at a significant disadvantage, meaning his independent campaign would likely resort to a self-funding. This is a move which, to the average voter, causes scepticism as to whether you’re running just to make personal returns on your own investment. “I’ll say it this way,” Schultz told the television host, “we’ll be fully resourced to do what’s necessary.”
Though doing what’s moral seems to be another story. Schultz — reportedly worth 3.4 billion in overall net worth — has all the money in the world to spend on denigrating messages of fixing income inequality and locking up immigrant children in cages (which he frames as equal radicals), yet only invested $19,701 to his Starbucks Foundation in 2017, according to his non-profit’s most recent tax filings. This is peanuts compared to the $61,616 he reported as a personal gift to the $13,297,500 he used for stock buybacks of the Starbucks corporation, confirmed by his recent tax files.
Aides to Schultz refused to comment on the investigation that was published by The Young Turks’ journalists Jonathan Larsen and Ken Klippenstein, though the man has shown the same bend towards elitism the president embodies. On Tuesday, Schultz laughed off Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her recently proposed wealth tax as “ridiculous”, while also calling Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) “misinformed” for proposing a 70 percent marginal tax rate on those making over 10 million, which is lower than previous tax codes under former Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
“Trump’s strategy has always been divide and conquer,” said an anonymous Democratic strategist that recently spoke to The Atlantic. “This [campaign] plays directly into his hands. He’s Ralph Nader without any of Nader’s redeeming [populist] qualities. What’s his value proposition for America? Make America like a corporate chain?” Schultz is certainly not above the immoral greeds of markets, though does oppose the likes of Trump for giving such practice the indefensibly ugly face it deserves.
Thanks for reading! This article was originally published for TrigTent.com, a bipartisan media platform for political and social commentary, truly diverse viewpoints and facts that don’t kowtow to political correctness.
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