Howard Schultz Could Actually Win the Presidency

Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz looks out at the audience during a book promotion tour, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

American politics is crazy these days and the craziest thing of all is that Starbucks founder Howard Schultz — a Democrat possibly running as an independent — could actually win the presidency.


Say what, you exclaim? Has Simon gone off the deep end, if he wasn’t there already? Indie candidates never win. They’re just spoilers.

Just as a reminder, I was one of the first to predict that Donald Trump would win — second only to Scott Adams, according to American Thinker. That doesn’t mean I will be right again. It’s just worth pointing out.

And, yes, Trump himself is obviously anxious for Schultz to get into the race. Why else would the president have so quickly taunted the businessman in a tweet saying that he didn’t have the “guts” to run? Trump was obviously goading Howard to get in because the conventional wisdom is that Schultz would split the Democratic vote, leading to the easy reelection of Donald.

Be careful what you wish for, as they say.

On the other hand, Schultz does have an Achilles’ heel, but more of that in a moment. First, the positives.

Elections are often a reaction to the previous one. America will be searching for a calm, level-headed voice. That, we know, is not Trump, nor is it the hard-left candidate that could well, in fact likely will, win the Democratic nomination. Current frontrunner Kamala Harris is far from reassuring. She’s a shrill (see the Kavanaugh hearings) quasi-socialist promising pie in the sky — Medicare-for-all, debt-free college, guaranteed pre-K, minimum basic income, confiscatory taxes — and she’s just getting started. Bernie and others will soon be following suit. Fauxcahontas already has, competing in a game of socialist one-upmanship. Even supposedly centrist Biden is playing along. Who will win the approval of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Too bad she’s too young to run.


The cost of all this, the actual numbers, if they ever even publish any, will be stratospheric. The national debt will reach the moon and beyond. Maybe Alpha Centauri. If this nonsense were all enacted, the stock market would plunge, unemployment would soar, incomes would plummet, and we’d be headed for a global Depression. It’s that stupid.

And Howard Schultz knows it. That is why — straight out of the box or whatever — he has isolated the escalating national debt as his main issue and pilloried Trump for doing nothing about it. (He has a point there.) At first, he will seem stodgy to “idealistic” millennials, but after a while, they too will wise up. It’s their futures too, after all. The outrageous costs of the Democratic platform will be made known to them and then some. The election, already started, is long. The hard left’s proposals will not wear well.

Schultz’s policies would end up being much closer to Trump’s than to the Democratic opposition. He would want to increase taxes, but only a smidge, so as not to disrupt the economy. He opposes Medicare for all as far too expensive. He would be for a strong defense, at least relatively. He would be middle-of-the-road on immigration, where many Americans are.  He would be Trump-lite, a palatable Donald that many of the media could swallow because he wouldn’t insult them for being liars (even though they are) or say outrageous (though often accurate) things for them to deliberately misinterpret.


And, of course, he has plenty of money to run — in every county, as he says.

Could this, of all things, spell victory? It never did for John Anderson, Ralph Nader, or Russ Perot, not even close. But Schultz has more going for him. He is, if anything, a more successful businessman than Trump with plenty of economic acumen. And his business, unlike Perot’s, is known to all Americans. Moreover, it is a symbol of the “cool” sophisticated life to which much of modern America aspires, like it or not. Schultz took the Greenwich Village coffee shop and put it into every suburban mall in the country, making it less scary and more bourgeois in the process. What soccer mom doesn’t love her latte? (I don’t, but that doesn’t matter.) Trump, as a business outsider, could actually have paved the way for Schultz. (Interestingly, businessman Bill Lee won a huge victory in the gubernatorial race here in Tennessee.)

But here’s that heel. Or maybe, on reflection, it’s not. Anyway, it’s the bathroom scandal. As some will recall, last May there was a controversy about who could use Starbucks’ bathrooms. Did you have to be a paid customer? Until May you did, but then a couple of guys protested and Schultz relented in what became a national news story with, naturally, racial overtones. Schultz came down on the liberal side of this –bathrooms for all — but some, including people who actually work there, are, as one might imagine, not so happy with the results. We shall see how this (ducking!) flushes out.


Nevertheless, write Shultz off at your peril.

Roger L. Simon ‚ co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media — is an author and screenwriter.


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