Democrats are worrying about former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz running as an independent for president in 2020. They say it will only help President Trump. But the only reason this lifelong Democrat is thinking about an independent bid is because the Democratic party has moved so far to the left.
As soon as Schultz stepped down from his perch at Starbucks last June, speculation arose about his running as a Democrat in 2020. But then, during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” around that time, Schultz had this to say:
“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left. I say to myself, ‘How are we going to pay for these things,’ in terms of things like single payer (and) people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job.”
“I don’t think that’s realistic,” he said. Then he added: “I think we got to get away from these falsehoods and start talking about the truth and not false promises.”
Schultz went on to say that the greatest threat domestically to the country is “this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations. The only way we’re going to get out of that is we’ve got to grow the economy, in my view, 4% or greater. And then we have to go after entitlements.”
To today’s Democrats, Schultz must sound like an alien invader.
He’s asking how to pay for universal health care and guaranteed jobs? Everyone knows it’s by taxing rich people like Schultz. He wants to “go after” entitlements? The party line is to expand all of them. He calls national debt the “greatest threat”? The official position of the Democratic Party is that the greatest threat we face is global warming.
And 4% economic growth? When President Trump promised to deliver growth rates that high, Democrats called him crazy.
But Schultz is absolutely right about his fellow Democrats. As we have pointed out many times in this space, the Democratic Party has veered to the extreme left in recent years. So far, in fact, that it is now embracing an economic agenda that is to the left of any other industrialized nation — including China.
Top Democrats have, for example, bear-hugged Bernie Sanders’ radical “Medicare for all” plan, which promises “free” government-provided health care benefits more generous than any other nation, and that would cost trillions of dollars a year.
The party’s most recent fascination is with “guaranteed jobs,” an idea straight out of the Soviet Union’s constitution that would cost upward of $750 billion a year.
And that’s to say nothing of the party’s promise of free college, student loan forgiveness and various other big ticket items.
As we noted in this space recently, Sanders, a self-described socialist who nearly stole the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton, “seems to have opened the way for the mainstreaming of socialism in the Democratic Party.”
In fact, Hillary Clinton recently tried to pin her troubles in the 2016 Democratic primaries on the fact that she was perceived as — gasp — “a capitalist.”
It’s not just party leaders who’ve veered far to the left, but the Democratic base itself. A survey of 1,000 likely Democratic voters taken before the 2016 elections found that nearly 60% said socialism would be great for America. A Pew Research Center report out last year found that while the center of the Republican Party shifted slightly to the right between 1994 and 2017, the center for Democrats moved sharply to the left.
So, it should not come as a surprise that, instead of listening to the more practical-minded Schultz, Democrats immediately tried to force him off the stage.
Helaine Olen, writing in the Washington Post, acknowledges that Schultz was a good liberal when he headed Starbucks. He won kudos for things like providing health benefits to part-time workers, defending gay marriage, offering financial aid for college, and for standing up to Trump on immigration.
But she goes on to complain that Schultz’s “politics are not exactly in sync with the Democratic Party today” and says he “shouldn’t run for president.”
The Daily Beast says Schultz’s resume “seems inherently out of step with a party in which Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kamala Harris are luminaries” and that “no one is excited” about him running for president.
Eric Levitz, writing in New York magazine, goes so far as to say that Schulz’s combination of socially liberal and what Levitz calls “fiscally conservative” views “put him on the radical fringe in the United States.” He says Democrats “must reject” Schultz’s “ideology.”
So Schultz, realizing he has no future as a Democrat, announced on “60 Minutes” over the weekend that he’s “….as a centrist independent, outside of the two-party system.”
“Both parties,” he said, “are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics.”
That has Democrats starting to worry that a Schultz run could hurt Democratic chances in 2020. Julian Castro, one of several left-liberal Democrats who’ve already announced plans to run in 2020, complained on CNN that “it would provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected.”
Maybe Castro and Co. should be focused more on their party’s lurch into the left-wing fringes, which has made it impossible for moderate Democrats like Schultz to find any home there.
Trump wasn’t really a Republican when he ran. Trump adopted some GOP positions, and the establishment GOP adopted some of his (for instance, opposition to free trade and support of severely limited immigration). The Democrats’ screwing over Sanders lost them votes that otherwise would have made Hillary Clinton president.
It’s not as if an independent president would find governing very easy, to have to cobble together coalitions on issues. But it might, depending on who the candidate is, give Americans more palatable choices for president.