In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, someone who lived in my house decried the fact that the options offered were, how to say this kindly, unappealing. On the right was the singularly least qualified, and worst, candidate since Andrew Jackson, and probably ever. On the left was a former First Lady who deplored a significant portion of her countrymen and announced she would not be their president.
That the Democrats lost to Trump was the greatest humiliating defeat ever in the history of politics. That they didn’t win 80-20 is shocking, a point they missed as they cast blame around the fringes. So if they couldn’t pull off a win with Clinton, would they learn anything? Not that they didn’t get their message out well enough, but that their message, pushing ever-harder to toward progressive ends, was rejected. Nah.
Enter the possibility of a run by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. So, what if he did?
In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.” He hasn’t yet made up his mind, and perhaps the overwhelmingly negative reaction from almost all segments of the Democratic Party, as well as some NeverTrump Republicans, will dissuade him. There’s a danger, though, that the reality-distorting effects of being a billionaire will warp his judgment, convincing him that his business acumen is transferable to the realm of politics.
While Schultz, as opposed to Trump, is the real deal of the businessman-president model, because he’s actually a wealthy, successful businessman, it’s far too early to know whether he’s got the goods. It’s a fair question to ask whether “business acumen is tranferable to the realm of politics,” but it’s silly to conclude it’s dangerous before knowing.
But the reaction from the left is, well, informative.
If Howard Schultz gets into the presidential race, @MoveOn, @IndivisibleTeam, the @DNC, the major unions, and the major presidential campaigns should all use their email lists to promote a Starbucks boycott until he drops out.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) January 27, 2019
Not only does the beloved ThinkProgress law guy already hate Schultz, but his call to arms is to boycott his former business to financially harm him for the audacity of running for office. Some might suggest this is a less-than-American thing to do. If you prefer a different candidate, support the candidate. Not Ian. Not this candidate. And Ian is hardly alone in seeing the path to political hegemony through harming his adversaries through secondary attacks.
Unlike Donald Trump, the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is a genuinely successful businessman who built a company that’s become part of the daily lives of people across America. For this, those of us who are horrified by Trump’s relentless grifting should be grateful. It gives us something concrete to boycott should Schultz decide to launch a narcissistic spoiler campaign for president.
Is Schultz a narcissist? Is this a vanity run by a billionaire, which would not be the first time that happened?
By flirting with such a risk, Schultz is demonstrating a level of megalomaniacal recklessness that is itself disqualifying. “I think all American citizens should be worried about the possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected with 40 percent of the vote,” said Wolfson.
It hardly seems too much of a stretch to say that anyone running for President is a narcissist, a megalomaniac. Who else would put themselves, their family, through such a gauntlet? If that was disqualifying, we would be left with no one (which might not be the worst thing, but I digress). But the ad hominem attack isn’t the problem, just the handy tool of the vacuous.
The problem that is that Schultz is going to blow the best opportunity the radical left may ever get to reinvent America into a progressive Utopia. The set-up couldn’t be better, a president of such staggering incompetence and repulsiveness that no moderately intelligent person could deny.
This is their moment, when a political recreation of a nation in the image of social justice, quasi-socialism, can actually happen. It can happen. It can happen because as few Americans as support the radical progressive vision there may be, at least they’re better than Trump.
But give America a third option, one that isn’t leaping off the progressive ledge to a certain death below, the Democats will lose. Whether that means the independent candidate will win, or Trump will win, is unclear. Historically, the answer seems obvious, but this isn’t exactly Ross Perot’s sucking sound.
What is clear is that the Democrats are brutally well-aware that they do not have the support of a nation (remember that 80-20 win over Trump last election?), and that their party, their platform, their dreams of Utopia, cannot prevail because a majority of Americans do not support them. And since they’re right, even if few agree with them, there’s no possibility of change. They may market themselves more moderately than they would prefer, but it will be a beard for what they truly believe.
The set-up only flies if it’s Trump against a Democrat, be she left, lefter or leftest. Is Howard Schultz the spoiler who ruins everything? Beats me, but their fear is well-founded. As repugnant as Darth Cheeto may be, if the best the Dems have to offer is “we’re not Trump,” so forfeit your America for ours and suck it up, pretty much any alternative might do. The point is that the only way we end up in a progressive Utopia is if they go head-to-head with Trump, as any competent, reasonable alternative would be better. No wonder they want to kill it before it grows.