Last week, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz created waves when he said he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President. One would think Democratic moderates and Independents might welcome such a voice. Instead, the response was derision not just from progressive circles but the supposed “moderate” Democratic establishment which has bashed Republicans for selling their souls to elect Trump.
Howard’s reason for exploring a run is because he is sick and tired of the polarization of the current system. This is from the technocrat’s tried and true playbook. Ego is certainly a part of it too. Democrats worry Schultz will steal votes from their ultimate nominee, but this belief gives credence to the reason why he is running, the parties are to extreme.
Just look at the most recent example we have straight out of California Senator Kamala Harris’s mouth. During a CNN town hall on Monday in Iowa, in response to a question from Jake Tapper about her positions on healthcare, the Senator said, “I believe the solution — and I actually feel very strongly about this — is that we need to have Medicare for all. That’s just the bottom line.” She further added, “Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require. Who of us has not had that situation, where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.” Right, because remember, government has no red tape.
Harris’s viewpoint is nothing new for the party. In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a Medicare for All system. The estimated cost was $32 trillion over 10 years and it was scoffed at by former nominee Hillary Clinton. My, how the times have changed.
But we have more examples than just poor old Kamala Harris. Out of the crop of new Democratic House members the most vocal is known as AOC or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. In just a couple months in DC she has made headlines by arguing for a “Green Climate Deal” costing trillions and advocated for increasing taxes on the “wealthy” up to 70 percent. Ironically, AOC owes her tenure in Congress to some of the same voters Schultz might win over.
Schultz has made clear he does not support such an idea. God forbid he not support raising taxes on those making over $10 million which would include many businesses. The left certainly thinks he is some “rich dude” not willing to pay his fair share.
Democratic leadership in the House has been careful to tamp down on the liberal leanings of their Caucus and focus on opposing Trump but the fact they feel they need to hide the positions of their members says a lot. Plus, the netroots is broadcasting just how much they fear his candidacy because they know wealthy Americans are not a natural fit in the modern Democratic coalition and won’t buy into a mantra of “taxing the rich to death” and “taking away their healthcare.” The Democratic grassroots sure does.
The belief a “moderate” will come out of the Democratic field has been entirely eradicated in less than a month. Every single Democrat who once held dissenting viewpoints from their party on social issues gave a mea culpa of sorts. Hawaiian Rep. Tabbi Gabbard said her opposition to gay marriage was wrong. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued an apology for supporting gun rights and opposing abortion when she represented a conservative, upstate New York Congressional district.
This is what Schultz means when he talks about how extreme both parties have become. Schultz has plenty of fire for Republicans but mostly it is directed at Trump’s culture wars appeal. The difference is Republicans are not the ones trying to stop Schultz from running.
The math and Schultz’s appeal tells the story. Schultz’s background, demeanor and views would appeal to upscale, white suburbanite Democrats (and Republicans). Democrats have increasing become an upstairs-downstairs coalition of these well-off voters and downscale minorities. The GOP has shed more and more of its business, suburban support in favor of blue-collar, white and Hispanic (see Florida) support.
In states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, where Democrats rely on big margins in mostly white, well-off, dense suburbs a Schultz campaign could be disastrous. Even if Schultz only pulls 10 percent nationally and say less than five percent in any given state, he could tip the scales to Trump.
But, if mainstream Democratic ideas like Medicare for All and multiculturalism are so popular should not the party be willing to debate other viewpoints? Shouldn’t these ideas win out. One can say what they want about Republican ideas but so far, they seem perfectly willing to contrast their ideas with others.
So, if Democrats really want to have their policies and party beliefs vetted and validated, they should welcome Schultz into the field. Personally, I say, “Run Howard, run!”
Note: A friend of mine recently noted Schultz is a rejection from the elites of both Republican social populism and Democratic economic populism. I am inclined to agree.