Howard Schultz: A third-party centrist candidate like me could win the presidency in 2020
Howard Schultz Said He's Not Going to Put Trump Back to the Oval Office
To become better, we must repair our broken two-party system. To those who say a third choice can't succeed, I say that's as un-American as you can get.
Imagine if our country were more united. If we were stronger, safer, more respected, fair, compassionate and prosperous.
Imagine if more elected leaders collaborated, unselfishly put country over party, and were only beholden to the best ideas that serve the interests of more Americans.
Imagine if our president were tough but not cruel. If he were dignified, told the truth, and was a commonsense problem-solver.
Imagine if our founding ideals of freedom and equality, and the promise of opportunities such as education and jobs, were more fully realized.
Imagine if every voice mattered, and every vote counted, in every state.
These are not outlandish goals but essential conditions for thriving democracy. And they are possible to achieve despite the chaos of our times. I believe this because I’ve spent my life trying to reimagine better futures — for myself, for the company I led, and for people in communities.
Today, I ask you to join me in imagining a better America.
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Becoming better begins by repairing our broken two-party system, which is why I am seriously considering running for president of the United States as a centrist independent. I will spend the next few months deciding by traveling the country, and listening to my fellow Americans.
I already believe that the idea of a third choice will resonate.
Our two parties are not working for most Americans. Sixty-six percent of likely voters say “neither party is really representing my needs or interests,” according to a recent No Labels/HarrisX poll.
I have met so many people who feel frustrated and ignored because the party they once proudly embraced now embraces extreme ideologies and revenge politics over sensible solutions and collaborative problem-solving. Polarization and divisiveness among Republicans and Democrats are spoiling the potential of our country, making it possible for a new choice to emerge.
Americans want something besides partisanship
Millions of voters already crave a better choice. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say a “third major party is needed,” according to Gallup. It’s even higher among millennials. Gallup also reports that 39 percent of Americans already identify as independents. While independent voices are diverse, they have in common a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a desire to fix it.
A formidable third choice for president also has a chance to succeed for the first time since George Washington because this precise moment in history is uniquely perilous, and brimming with possibility. The toxic mix of social and fiscal challenges, extreme ideological divisions and political dysfunction threatens to deteriorate the greatest democracy in human history. How can elected officials solve complex problems such as unaffordable health care, a crumbling national infrastructure, a debilitating national debt, unequal access to education and employment, and disappearing middle-class jobs if our leaders cannot hold a productive conversation — or keep the government open?
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history that ended Friday was an unnecessary event that put thousands of workers and their families in financial straits, proving that many in our political class are more interested in fighting each other than working for the people they represent.
The 2020 election gives us an exciting opportunity to stop this chaos. Donald Trump is unfit for office and must not be president for four more years. A successful run by a centrist independent could do more than replace him, but simultaneously fix a broken system that prioritizes the needs of the special interests over the interests of working Americans.
I won't run for president unless I think I can win
Running for president should not be undertaken without intense preparation. I promise that I will not seek the presidency unless I believe it is possible to win, and for me to govern well. Should I run, I will be on the ballot in all 50 states. To decide, I will spend the next few months continuing to learn, listen, talk with people, hear their stories and understanding what people need — and whether they are ready for a new choice.
Today, I ask that people get to know me. I grew up in Brooklyn’s public housing projects. My father was a working-class guy who got fired from his job delivering diapers after an accident. He had no health insurance and our family had no savings. His body healed, but his spirit remained shattered. I’ve never forgotten that.
The only inheritance I received was my mother’s belief that I could create a better life for myself. I became the first in my family to go to college and joined Starbucks in 1982, when it only had four stores. I have lived the American dream thanks to hard work, a little luck, kindness from strangers, and countless people who helped me build Starbucks. Today, the company has nearly 30,000 stores, has employed more than 3 million people around the world over almost five decades, and ranks as Fortune magazine’s fifth most admired company.
I did not set out to build a big company. I set out to create the kind of company that my father never got a chance to work for, one that treated people with dignity. That’s why Starbucks offered health insurance and stock ownership to part-time workers more than 20 years ago, when doing so was unheard of. It’s why the company gives baristas a chance to get a tuition-free college education. This spring, more than 3,000 employees will have graduated. Many, like me, are the first in their family to go to college.
Don't blame an independent for party failures
A business is not a proxy for the country. Even so, the intentions of Starbucks do reflect the business of our country, which has long been to try to balance humanity and prosperity.
I hope you will consider my potential entry not just because I built a successful business, but also because of what I learned along the way: the importance of the dignity of work, the power of community, what’s possible when people come together for a shared purpose.
If I decide to run, it will be because of an abundance of Americans who share an optimistic vision for renewal, and who have come forward to bring it to fruition.
For now, let’s begin to imagine what we can do together. The choice in 2020 does not have to be between two parties, but about choosing country over partisanship.
To those who say an independent run would help ensure the re-election of Donald Trump, I say the two parties’ inability to come together to serve the people has created the opportunity for a centrist independent to be successful. To suggest that either party’s candidate could lose because of a third choice is intellectually dishonest. I am considering a run because members of both parties are not yet doing the job they were elected to do.
And to those who insist a third choice cannot succeed, I say that to insist something cannot be done is as un-American as you can get. Together, we have what it takes to reimagine “us.”