The chance that Howard Schultz will actually have any notable effect on the 2020 election is tiny, but the mere possibility of candidates sidestepping the two-party system always draws a nasty show from some majority. Schultz, a longtime CEO of Starbucks who left the company in 2018, said on Sunday that he's seriously considering running for president as an independent candidate. And people from the two ruling political parties are indignant, as they are any time someone has the audacity to not fall into one of their ranks.
If there's one thing both can agree on, it's that third-party or independent challengers and voters should be shamed. Don't they know serious people pick the poison that makes them the least sick but never question why we're poisoning ourselves in the first place?
While I am not a fan of Schultz (and think his appeal to voters will be very limited) there is a weird sense of entitlement in the way Democrats have been discussing the votes of those people who might theoretically vote for him if he runs.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) January 29, 2019
"None of the explanations coming from Howard Schultz or his advisers answer a very simple question: if he thinks he has a winning message, why can't he run in the Democratic primary? Why does he get to skip that contest? Just because he's a billionaire?" tweeted podcaster Jon Favreau in a post that's gotten almost 40,000 likes.
But none of the questions like these from Favreau and other angry liberals answer a simple question: if Schultz knows his message and politics are out of step with prevailing Democratic orthodoxy and expectations—and Democrats haven't stopped pointing this out since he announced—then why should Schultz run as a Democrat? If both he and seemingly everyone in liberal media agree that his policies hearken back to something that the Democratic Party has passed by, doesn't it make sense to step away from the party? And what's everyone so worried about, anyway?
If the people persuadable by Schultz's platform are really such unimportant relics, then their rallying around a Schultz candidacy shouldn't make a difference to the Democratic candidate. If they are a large and central enough constituency that Schultz's candidacy poses real problems, then Democrats need to reconsider why their party's potential candidates could scare this constituency off. And if the answer is that there's no way for one party to appeal to both whatever crowd its imagined that Schultz will capture plus the younger, more left-leaning, less market-friendly, and Old White Man-averse segments of its intended electorate than that's all the more evidence that Schultz is doing the right thing by splitting off.
Democrats in the Trump era seem to feel more entitled than ever to votes from anyone to the left of lead Republicans. But there are still plenty of people who oppose Trump and yet don't feel obligated to support a Democratic candidate unconditionally. Ignoring that issue is one of many misfires from the party and its mouthpieces in 2016, and it looks like they're doomed to repeat it again.
"It's insane that a single person can credibly threaten to upset the apple cart of presidential politics just in virtue of being rich," tweeted Vox editor Matthew Yglesias, calling the goal of Schult's potential candidacy "something like a billionaire's veto on elections, where if Democrats dare challenge plutocracy too fundamentally they'll be blocked by a self-funded spoiler."
But again, these dastardly billionaires can't and won't ever be spoilers without appealing to a significant number of people at the same time as a Democratic Party candidate alienates or fails to inspire voters. And if they do appeal to a significant number of people as Democrats don't…that's democracy in action, not some unfair and dystopian loophole. Democrats should stop acting like its beneath them to have to actually appeal to voters and persuade and join together a viable coalition.
In other 2020 presidential election developments, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is reportedly having troubles getting her presidential campaign off the ground and a new ABC/Washington Post poll finds 56 percent of respondents saying they would "definitely not" vote for Donald Trump in 2020.
New ABC/Washington Post poll finds that 56% of Americans would "definitely not" vote for Trump in '20.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 29, 2019
Another way the E.U. "right to be forgotten" is risky. "If the surgeon about to operate on you has been disciplined for neglecting patients, wouldn't you like to know?" asks Stewart Baker at Volokh Conspiracy. "Well, the mandarins of European Union privacy law beg to differ. Google has been told by a Dutch court not to tell anyone about the disciplined doctor, and there seems to have been a six-month lag in disclosing even the court ruling."
Baltimore cuts back on pot prohibition. "Jailing people for marijuana possession is a vast and ongoing moral failure," said Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The city has announced that it will stop prosecuting for marijuana unless there's evidence of intent to distribute. Mosby told NBC that "there is no public safety value" in prosecuting possession cases, which disproportionately hit black Baltimore residents, and that these cases are "costly and counterproductive to the limited resources we have in the city of Baltimore."
- Yearly PSA:
A reminder that "Sex trafficking at the SuperBowl" is some made up nonsense used to justify the annual Department of Goon Welfare tailgate party on your dime. @ENBrown has reciepts. https://t.co/ROAHBzoHrH
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) January 30, 2019
- Perhaps we've found the real reason why President Donald Trump is eager to get American troops out of Syria and Afghanistan: He wants to station them at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of his ongoing political theater there. Several thousand additional troops will be deployed to the border, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
- A pair of doctors is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene with an emergency stay of an anti-abortion law in Louisiana.
- At The Bulwark, Molly Jong-Fast explains the current riff between anti-immigration hardliners and Trump-first loyalists in the Republican Party after the president caved on the wall and the shutdown.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham is betraying Congress, writes Conor Friedersdorf.
- Oleg Deripaska is getting a lot more scrutiny as the Trump administration lifts sanctions on his company.
- Harvey Weinstein's lawyers were in court this week fighting a class-action sex trafficking lawsuit against Weinstein. "Two New York federal judges already have ruled that the [2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act] can be used in suits against Weinstein, including one who did so on Monday," reports the Associated Press.