Don't Fear Independents Like Howard Schultz! Politics Should Be More Like a Starbucks Menu

There are more forms of hepatitis than there are major parties in America.


Nearly a dozen Democrats are already running for president. The highlights so far include an interview about immigration livestreamed from a dental chair, a former Harvard professor popping a beer like jes' plain folks on New Year's Eve, and a draconian former prosecutor pledging her allegiance to Wakanda. Democrats are tripping over each other to pitch Medicare for All, Free College for All, Guaranteed Jobs for All, and laying taxes on wealth as well as income.

And then there's Howard Schultz.

The former CEO of Starbucks is considering a run for president as a "centrist independent." He says that the national debt threatens economic growth, that we shouldn't demonize successful entrepreneurs, and that the government can't be all things to all people.

That brought public hate, contempt, and character assassination from every conceivable angle.

It's not just anti-globalist lefties on the attack. The New York Times' op-ed page says he's narcissistic, delusional, and fanatical. His potential run, his critics claim, would be nothing short of "reckless idiocy."

But Schultz's belief that neither major party represents America is widely shared. A plurality of Americans don't identify with either party. And nearly three-quarters of us think the country is headed in the wrong direction, which helps to explain why neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump won a majority of the popular vote in 2016.

The two-party duopoly and its supporters in the media understand how widely disliked they are, which is why they want to kneecap anyone who isn't on Team Red or Team Blue.

You don't have to agree with Schultz to understand that having more voices and ideas on the table at this point in the election cycle is a good thing—especially when you consider the alternatives.

Democrats fear people such as Schultz because they think he will drain votes from whoever their nominee ends up being, giving Trump a path to re-election. But that's actually a faulty analysis.

Former Republican Rep. John Anderson was blamed for pulling votes from Jimmy Carter in 1980, but almost half his supporters would have gone with Reagan as their second choice.

In 1992, the GOP fingered Ross Perot as a political saboteur, but the 19 percent of Americans who pulled the lever for the Texas Billionaire were equally split between Bush and Clinton as their fallback. In 2016, socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters—Schultz's demographic—broke for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, suggesting the coffee-shop magnate would pull votes from the incumbent president rather than his Democratic challenger.

Four years ago, during his attempt to win the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) complained that we don't "need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants." If variety in armpit aroma isn't his thing, I'd like to believe that the Vermont socialist would at least favor more choice at the ballot box. Right now, there are more forms of hepatitis than viable political parties in America.

So it's kind of fitting that the former CEO of a company that introduced infinite choice in coffee drinks is now being dragged for threatening to expand the political spectrum all the way from A to C. If American politics can't stand even the possibility of an independent candidate who praises capitalism, opposes massive tax increases, and wants to reduce federal debt, we're already screwed.

Edited by Mark McDaniel. Cameras by Jim Epstein. Graphics by Joshua Swain.

"Ghost Dance" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Photo Credits: David Becker/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Brian Cahn/TNS/Newscom. Rick Friedman/Polaris/Newscom; Imagine China/Newscom; Everett Collection/Newscom; Arnie Sachs/SIPA/Newscom; Mark Reinstein/ZUMA Press/Newscom; JASON REDMOND/REUTERS/Newscom

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  1. As long as coffee-man doesn’t put babies outside the pale of legal protection, I’d be for him. I presume that if he cares about the unborn in their capacity as taxpayers saddled with the national debt, he’d care for the unborn in their capacity as potential victims of killing.

  2. I am not rooting for Schultz to win the Presidency in any shape or form….but man, I would love to see the Dems lose him. Losing to two non-politician businessmen who used to support the DNC in two election cycles might actually “wake” that party to the errors of their ways. Not really, but would still love to the pants-shitting.

    1. It will “wake” the Democrats to the dangers of capitalist-roaders in their own ranks – time for a purge!

    2. I would love to see him do to the Democrats what Perot did to the Republicans. Even better, let them run Harris or some other loon and finish in third behind Trump and Shultz. That might actually wake them up but I doubt it.

      1. The one risk is that if no one got to 270 electoral votes that the House democrats might vote to elect their candidate anyway.

      2. I have no idea any more but isn’t Harris what passes for a mainstream Dem candidate these days?

  3. I love that Schultz is talking about the national debt and the crisis that it is. This is what the kids should be out in the streets protesting. This is going to enslave them for years. It is a far greater threat to their health and safety than gun rights. But otherwise I don’t think he has a chance. He doesn’t get politics. He says he wants to unify, and then brands criticism of him as ‘un-American’. Well that’s pretty divisive. But yeah it would be fun to watch him drive the dems crazy and then to watch Trump take him down.

    1. Yeah but that’s what the 70% tax and wealth tax are for! No need to worry about the debt when obviously the wealthy paying their fair share will easily take care of the debt, Medicare/college/jobs/ponies for all!!!

      1. Yeah! Seize all their assets, the entire amount! Sell it all to China (it’s not like there’d be wealthy Americans around to buy it all) and you’d cover the cost of their free stuff for nearly a year or so!

        Fuck, these people are blithering idiots. It’s like a bunch of spoiled, petulant third-graders left student council and planning immediately entered Congress.

  4. He says that the national debt threatens economic growth

    Third party talk.

    1. Overpriced and full of terms a normal person wouldn’t use in a normal conversation?

    2. Full of claims to single origin flavors?

  5. Starbucks is already like Congress – overpriced and packed with elitists.

    1. Starbucks are full of elitists? Have you been to a Starbucks?

      1. Yes. I ordered a Demi Lovato and stayed awake for 3 days straight.

        No. Never been to one.

      2. Yes. I ordered an Ariana Grande. Way too sweet, mostly aerated foam, and highly overrated.

        1. Your millennial pop music jokes are quite frankly embarrassing, and I would like you to stop before someone gets hurt.

          1. I ordered an A2M and having that mocha froth wad smoothie going down the throat was mind-blowing.

            1. I ordered a Boys 2 Men and Crusty showed up.

              1. I ordered a Hillary Duff with nothing in (on). I went completely Gaga.

              2. Ordering a Boys 2 Men also netted you a personal invitation to join NAMBLA, plus a lucrative job offer to be the FBI’s new webmaster.

        2. I ordered the Two-Pack Shaker special. I think it is still around here somewhere.

        3. “I ordered an Ariana Grande”

          I wasn’t aware she started escorting.

      3. I am with you Crusty. Elitests don’t go to Starbucks. Starubucks stopped being cool for elitest back in the 1990s. I have never understood that charge.

          1. John and Crusty is an even better team than that time Crusty and Fist went to Yellowstone and buried a body there. It would be the only time in history both guys would fight for who gets to take one for the team.

  6. You kidding me? I love watching democrats squirm when someone tries to leave the intersectional socialist groupthink. I’m here for the outrage

    1. I love watching democrats squirm

      I like making them cum gallons and buckets.

  7. There are more forms of hepatitis than there are major parties in America.

    Gillespie knows all about that scourge of Boomers.

  8. Politics Should Be More Like a Starbucks Menu


  9. …which helps to explain why neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump won a majority of the popular vote in 2016.

    You know what explains it fully? The fact that the US does not have a popular vote. Nor can you extrapolate what the results of a popular vote would be from the state election results.

  10. Looks like Nick has finally let go his dream of a Hillary For President and is embarking on Reason United For Schultz.

  11. Politics is already like a Starbuck’s menu: bitter, overpriced and smug.

  12. There should be no independents.
    Get with the program or off the gulag you go.
    Independents only engage in out-of-the-box thinking which makes people think and vote contrary to the parties’ line.
    America wasn’t built on independence.
    America was built on party lines, policies and personalities.
    How else do you think we got into the predicament we’re in today?

  13. Politics Should Be More Like a Starbucks Menu

    Everything in politics will make you bleed from your ass?

  14. Underneath it all I suspect Schulz would approve of Bernie Sander’s politics. He just doesn’t want his money to pay for it.

  15. This headline is everything that’s wrong at Reason–

    Don’t Fear Independents Like Howard Schultz! Politics Should Be More Like a Starbucks Menu:

    Just like a Starbucks menu–full of superficially different things that are all Starbucks.

  16. History of Howard Schultz:

    * Hangs out at a North Beach Caffe, taking careful notes of how quality is achieved (so reported by owner)
    * Starts a coffee house copying the quality techniques previously observed.
    * When business is large enough, corners are cut until quality is diminished, and profits are increased. Some quality is returned later as premium products at premium prices.
    * Store placement is done strategically to drive competing mom and pop cafes out of existence

    The above can be blamed on mindless consumers, but

    * Begins going after other competitors on trumped up legal cases – his army of lawyers shuts competitors down through intimidation
    * Goes after one small poor monastery that sells boutique beans for their support, based on a trademark violation. The trademark being violated?: “Christmas Blend”.
    * Lawyers threaten lots of bad things for this trademark violation, likely resulting in the shutdown of the monastery.
    * The Abbot just so happens to have some friends in the press/media outlets. The press begins to make the threats public.
    * After too much public attention, Tar for Bucks backs down – the one competitor they could not threaten out of existence.
    * There is more
    * Shultz writes a book explaining what a wonderful person he is.

    You decide if that is a president you want.

    1. Which part of that makes him any worse than the choices we already have?

  17. Nick and Mark,

    Politics are not like a Starbucks menu. If Schultz were to run as a Democrat (and I’m not one), his chances might be slim, but that’s the only credible way to do it. In my opinion, Trump needs to be beaten, (Republicans can’t take on the successful bully who cowed the Bushes with hillbilly-backing) and if reasonably-minded Democrats or maybe-Democrats support (excluding Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren) the only electable option but Trump…well, accept it, Trump wins. I don’t this babbling kindergartner serving eight years. Sadly, it’s the only way he can win. If you want to see Trump lose, no self-respecting Libertarian should support a third-party dilution candidate at this point.

    1. Fuck off and die, progressive

    2. McDouchebag is against out president. Sounds like a subversive to me.

  18. “In 2016, socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters?Schultz’s demographic?broke for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, suggesting the coffee-shop magnate would pull votes from the incumbent president rather than his Democratic challenger.”

    Nick and Mark are stretching their analysis too far with this one.The socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters that voted for Trump in 2016 have now had 2 years of Trump actually being president with which to reinforce the idea that they were “correct” to have done so. People don’t want to admit when they’ve made a mistake, so these voters are much more likely to have increased in their approval of Trump than be willing to chuck that for an independent. After all, how important were their socially liberal positions to them if they were willing to vote for a candidate that was explicit about putting Justices on the Court that would overturn Roe?

    The fact of the matter is that Nick and Mark are also overstating the independence of voters that register or claim to be independent. Most of those “independents” are really Democrat or Republican leaners that just make themselves feel better by dumping on the 2-party system. But when it comes time to actually vote, they will give in to their animosity toward the other side and vote for the D or R that opposes the ones they hate. And that is because they are more interested in seeing the party they hate lose than in seeing anyone in particular win.

    1. I agree. Never underestimate the hate factor. I’ve known plenty of people who really don’t like who they’re voting for but truly loath who they are voting against. I would say the 2016 Presidential election was a classic example of that.

  19. The other problem to consider when talking about an independent in an executive office is how that executive is supposed to forward his/her agenda with two parties in the legislature that won’t like him/her? Just how effective was Jesse Ventura as Minnesota governor? (I honestly don’t know. That isn’t a rhetorical question.) Minnesota Democrats absolutely loathed him, though.

    If Schultz did win, the Democrats would probably be the more bitter of the two parties, but the Republicans would have no love for him either. And what if Schultz ended up with a sizable lead over both major party candidates in the popular vote and electoral college, but ended up short of the number needed to win outright? What are the chances that the House delegations of the states vote for Schultz rather than their party?

  20. I hope he runs, not that I’d vote for him, but just to see the democrats freakout.

    Along with TDS, the CDC can add (SDS) Schultz Derangement Syndrome

    1. If he split the vote enough Trump might be able to to take WA. Oh how I would enjoy rubbing the Seattle progtard’s noses in that.

  21. Americans can’t grasp the idea of a multiparty system. This works out great for the career swamp rats.

    1. America HAS a multiparty system.

      It just has shitty second level parties who only want the crown and refuse to take the time needed to build the kind of support that wine elections–and that very much includes the LP–whose leadership is frequently far to the left of it’s membership.

      Get out there. Do charitable good works. Get elected dogcatcher. Get elected dogcatcher AGAIN. Show that you have something real to offer–not just rhetoric.

      THEN you get a chance.

      Or we can have the artificially fractured polity of the Europeans–a polity so chopped up that the faceless unelected bureaucracy openly ignores the things they vote for.

  22. Politics Should Be More Like a Starbucks Menu

    Full of ‘cutesy’ fake Italian?

  23. Do you want your government to be like the menu of one restaurant and where your politician is on it.

    But in the course of living there are many meals to be had.and for most people the same dish for all of them would be an unsatisfactory standard of living.

  24. Or he could just count on the leftist extremists all knocking each other off in the primaries, & breeze to the nomination. Unless Hillary’s running.

  25. The problem is the Democrats are going way to far to the left with their candidates. They want to cater to their crazy leftist base, which is just as bad as Trump’s crazy right wing base. They exclude the moderates, which is where most people are. If Schultz runs and people vote for him because they can’t stand the Democrat candidate, and Trump wins re-election, it is their fault. If your a Trumpanista, this could also backfire, since I think a lot of Trump voters picked him because they couldn’t stand Hillary. They might vote for Schultz as a compromise. I don’t think Schultz can win though. This ugly mess is Democracy in action, and maybe it is crazy, but do any of you really have a better idea? Maybe pick the President by lucky lotto?

    1. Well Trump used a lot of themes to fire up his base most of which will never happen. Dems can do that as well.

      Actually I do think our two party system is a joke. Multi party parlimentary systems like in Israel may get you more representation on certain issues but have other problems so can’t say that is a better option.

      The real better option is to limit the size and scope of government but we knew that.

    2. Trump’s base isn’t ‘crazy right wing’. You’re searching for an equivalence that doesn’t exist.

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