In honor of Howard Schultz, here’s my opinion about the presidential race, based on no real reporting or polling or expertise, but just what feels right to me: nobody’s going to vote for Howard Schultz in 2020.
Obviously he’s not going to become president (here I was going to write something about how he couldn’t even run a basketball team or make a decent cup of coffee, but complete failure in a person’s main lifelong fields of effort is not enough to stop someone from becoming president). But he’s also not going to be some sort of spoiler handing the election to Donald Trump.
Why would anyone vote for this ninny? Sixty-five point eight million people voted for the Democratic nominee against Donald Trump in 2016, and it seems safe to assume that nearly all of them feel like they would vote against Donald Trump again, and can’t wait to do it. The people who did vote for Trump were fewer in number to begin with, and a lot of them don’t feel great about how it’s been working out.
The impulse behind Howard Schultz launching a third-party presidential bid and the impulse behind paying serious attention to his bid draw on two different but related antidemocratic theories. The second of those theories is the mainstream political analysts’ view that neither of the two major political parties can ever be more legitimate or deserving than the other. The disgrace of a Republican president and the failure of a unified Republican government can’t mean that it’s time for the Democrats to take over; it means that it’s time for some new bipartisan or nonpartisan dispensation, to keep things reasonable and neutral.
It’s entirely possible that the winner of the Democratic primaries could end up being some banker-friendly centrist, although that banker-friendly centrist would probably need to at least rhetorically embrace an expansion of government health care coverage. Unquestionably, whoever wins the nomination will be a disappointment to some part of the party’s coalition. That’s how the coalition works.
But Schultz is refusing to even stick around long enough to be disappointed by the voters’ decision. He’s afraid to try to convince the popular majority party to support him, so he’s preemptively announcing that whatever decision those voters make isn’t good enough.
This is the first of the antidemocratic theories behind Schultz’s announcement: Schultz’s own theory, which is that rich people are the most important people in America, and their interests have to be represented. (This is also what the political analysts are saying when they insist on balancing the parties, but they can’t admit it.) A rich person, backed by even richer people, won the presidency and then filled his cabinet with even more incredibly rich people, and the whole thing collapsed into incompetence and scandal. If people vote against that, they might end up voting against rich people.