Adelberg: Declare Independence

Why Howard Schultz should make an independent run for president.

by Steven Adelberg | 2/14/19 2:10am

 The 2020 presidential election is rapidly approaching. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign war chest grows to over $100 million; meanwhile, more and more Democrats are announcing their campaigns to replace him. America is not ready for another round of the polarizing, tribalistic turf war that increasingly defines this country’s presidential politics. Tensions still run deep from the toxic 2016 elections, and little suggests that the entrenched party elite on either side of the aisle will jostle for power in 2020 with any more civility than last time. 

The American people deserve better than another unfair ultimatum between two morally bankrupt party establishments that prove all too eager to sacrifice principle for power. No American should tolerate a Democratic National Committee that weaponizes identity politics for virtue signaling, only to do little more than wring their hands over blackface when it threatens their command over Virginia. Nor should any decent voter support the Republican leadership that espouse a constitutionalist free market worldview only to stand by the megalomaniac-in-chief who threatens it most when he can give them a boost in the midterms. The American experiment is not a game that exists for the self-gratification of 21st-century oligarchs: America is a principled stand against all odds that governance by and for the people can ensure life, liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness for all.  

If neither party can pretend to represent what it truly means to be an American, then average Americans shouldn’t help them maintain their charade. Americans must be bold if they hope to restore consent of the governed and elect leadership that reflects the national character. Just as the colonists of old needed the Founding Fathers to declare independence from a useless ruling class across the Atlantic, the American people need strong leadership to launch a 2020 electoral revolt against the feckless political class of today. We need a proven leader who is not afraid to stand on his conscience against the odds to fight for an ideal: we need Howard Schultz to launch his independent campaign for President of the United States. 

An independent run for president in 2020 is possible because it is necessary: too many Americans on both sides of the aisle feel disillusioned and disenfranchised by an unaccountable political system that rewards radicalism and keeps the unscrupulous in power. Only 20 percent of Americans approve of Congress, only 41 percent approve of President Trump and only 45 percent approve of the Democratic Party. These distressingly low crude barometers of public support for the political system only begin to scratch the surface of the dissatisfaction America feels toward its political system. Sizeable segments of the electorate could be mobilized at the ballot box by an independent movement that presents itself as a viable alternative to the status quo — in the spirit of free choice, these millions of Americans deserve their own candidate that can express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.  

 An independent candidate would not necessarily be a spoiler because the dissatisfaction with America’s fraught politics stretches across both sides of the aisle — an independent revolt against today’s two-party system does not have to be a partisan maneuver. With 39 percent of the electorate, independents are already the nation’s largest voting bloc by party affiliation: this base alone is more than enough to mount a competitive bid for president. Republican support of President Trump is also likely overstated; many of the #NeverTrump Republicans who now back Trump may do so simply because they fear the Democratic alternative more. Even still, an NPR analysis shows that only 83 percent of Republicans approve of Trump — those who do not would be likely to back a centrist alternative that does not carry Trump’s political baggage. Combined with the center-left voters that an independent candidate may pull from a fractious Democratic Party, an independent could attract a broad bipartisan coalition in 2020, like French President Emmanuel Macron’s winning coalition of 2017 or Ross Perot’s competitive independent campaign of 1992. These outsider candidacies were not “spoilers” that threw the election to an unpopular candidate: they were competitive bids for president that permanently altered the course of national politics. 

Howard Schultz is well-positioned to make this bid for president: he already has the resources, contacts, credentials and persona to mount a successful independent bid. He is a self-made business magnate who rose from the projects of Brooklyn to build his socially-conscious Starbucks Corporation to greatness. Schultz can bring clarity and a can-do attitude to a political world where voters still search for an honest politician. His American Dream life story can also have broad appeal in this time of economic uncertainty. Schultz’s $3.5 billion net worth combined with his contacts as a CEO and former Democratic donor could easily seed the billion-dollar war chest he must build to win the presidency. His unique message of delivering better social programs to those who need them most by fighting federal waste and balancing the federal budget can resonate with broad swathes of voters who see the human cost of America’s inefficient political system.

America needs Howard Schultz to make an independent bid for president in 2020. Both Democrats and Republicans are too beholden to the status quo to make the change that the United States needs. America needs to unite behind real reforms that reflect America’s founding values: only an independent can make the bipartisan stand on principle that this country needs. Independence is hard — it is not easy to voice one’s conscience on the campaign trail or at the ballot box without the assured backing of the American people. But when the social order is as morally bankrupt as it was in 1776 and as irredeemable as it is today in 2019, integrity and progress demand that Americans declare independence from the old to make room for the new. The future beckons — only time will tell if America can seize this opportunity to restore the integrity of the American experiment in life, liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness.