The exploration of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz of a possible third party candidacy has been welcomed by many who have long seen our dysfunctional politics as a result of the duopoly of power in the country in the hands to just two parties. People want change and that is highly unlikely to occur in our current system. That is precisely why Schultz has been met with a torrent of criticism by the media and Democrats for even suggesting a third party run. The spin is that he is handing the election to Donald Trump by splitting the anti-Trump ticket. However, this has been the same mantra for every third party candidate in my lifetime. The problem is that he could win and there is no danger that more threatens the establishment in Washington. So we are back to the same refrain — eagerly repeated by the media — that the country simply cannot handle more choice than the two offered by the party elites.
I do not know much about Schultz, though I have put his kids through college with a coffee addiction. He has studied the number of a third party run and thinks that it is possible. He may be right or wrong but it is the response from the political and media establishment that is so telling. The best indicator that he might be right is the outrage over his possible run.
Yet, every election in my lifetime I have heard (and felt) nothing but anger over having to constantly choice between the candidates approved by the Democratic and Republican primaries. Neither party reflects with majority of voters and the number of independents continue to rise.
We are routinely forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. The last election was an utter disgrace. The Democratic establishment wanted Hillary Clinton for its own purposes. It simply did not matter that Clinton was the most unpopular Democrat to run in the general election or that she was carrying a mile long chain of controversies and bad decisions. The same is true with Trump. Trump was elected as an anti-establishment (and non-Hillary) candidate but voters clearly wanted another choice. Yet, we are locked into whoever the two parties select from the extreme poles of our electorate.
I was raised in a staunchly Democratic family in Chicago and here is a suggestion for the Democratic Party. Spend less time trying to deny choices to the American voter and more time trying to selection someone that people will support in their own right. Rather than repeating the same identity politics and “lesser of two evils” strategy, find someone who actually appears to the majority of Americans as opposed to the most fringe elements of your own party. Schultz understands that. He has been selling things in crowded markets for his entire career. He did not do it by trying to convince McDonald’s coffee drinkers that their coffee was garbage or that Starbucks was the better choice of two bad cups of java. He did it by selling his coffee as a really good product and it is.
We have to stop being chumps. The barrage of criticism against Schultz and other third-party candidates is about power — not ours, theirs. Whatever Schultz may prove to be, he is at least a choice.
That is something we have really not had for a long time.