I’m no fan of billionaires running our country. I don’t like Donald Trump and I’m not supportive of Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer or anyone else whose net worth reaches ten figures. I don’t think those people have any idea how the rest of us live and I don’t believe running a country is like running a business. And I’m not sure why Democrats are all in a tizzy about Starbucks founder Howard Shultz running as an independent.
Ever since he announced that he’s exploring an independent bid for president, my twitter feed has been full of dire warning about helping Trump get re-elected. I don’t see it. Why are a large number of Democrats going to migrate over to a guy who seems to be all about business? He seems more attractive to moderate Republicans looking for an alternative to Trump than he does to moderate Democrats.
Shultz is more like John Anderson than Ross Perot and shares nothing with the likes of Ralph Nadar or Jill Stein who pulled votes from the left. Anderson ran as an independent in 1980 after losing the GOP nomination to Reagan. He was the last of the Rockefeller Republicans on the national stage. He was supposed to draw votes from the Reagan, but had little impact on the conservative revolution taking over the Republican Party at the time.
Democrats today are in a similar position as Republicans in 1980. Just as Reaganism was a rebuke to the excesses of the New Deal and Great Society, the current Democrats personified by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represent a rebuke of the inequality and failings of supply-side economics. Democrats aren’t about to abandon the party in any significant numbers to embrace a wonky, boring corporate CEO.
If Shultz has any constituency, it’s probably the people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016. They’re dissatisfied with the whole system and are no more happy with Trump than they were before Trump. They would be casting protest votes that would do more to harm the incumbent than any Democratic challenger.
While I would prefer a candidate with deep experience and a moderate temperament, I suspect Democrats are about to nominate someone who excites the much touted Rising American Electorate of young people, minorities and unmarried women. Instead of looking for somebody who has the skills to navigate out of the mess we’ve made, Democrats will choose somebody who checks a series of boxes, both ideological and identity related. The goal in politics today is build swell of emotional sentiment that appeals to people who have not been engaged in the electoral process. It worked in 2018 and should work better with Trump on the ballot. Howard Shultz really doesn’t figure prominently into that equation.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >