No vanity campaigns in 2020

It’s about a week late, but, lest anyone be wondering, I too hate Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, and don’t believe that he should run as an independent for the presidency in 2020. Schultz, for those of you who might not have heard, apparently feels uniquely qualified, in spite of his lack of experience, to save our country from the disaster that is Donald Trump, another egotistical businessman who laughed in the face of those who suggested that leading the world’s most powerful country may require something in the way of experience. Personally, I’m fine with our having an enormous Democratic field to choose from during the primary season – the more voices the better – but Schultz, from what has been reported, doesn’t want to go that route. No, it would appear that Schultz, being pushed forward by the likes of Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, feels as though his wealth entitles him to forgo the primary, and just run in the general election, as an independent.

As you can imagine, this didn’t exactly sit well with Democrats, who remember that third-party candidate Jill Stein essentially handed the White House to Donald Trump in 2016 by acting as a spoiler, pealing away progressive votes [with the help of Russian support, it’s worth noting] that would otherwise likely have gone to Hillary Clinton. [Stein only got 1.07% of the popular vote in Michigan, but her 51,463 were more than enough to change the outcome of the election, as Trump had only received 10,704 more than Clinton.] personally, I don’t think Schultz would find much of a constituency for this platform, which involves cutting entitlement programs without raising taxes on the wealthy in order to curb the federal debt, but, like I said, I think he should be given the opportunity to compete alongside everyone else.

So, yeah, you could say there was an enormous negative backlash to the news that Schultz, a self-proclaimed lifelong Democrat, had announced the he was considering an independent bid. Schultz, who Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown today called “a total idiot,” apparently thinks this response from the Democratic base is because he is “successful”… an argument, which, by way, was taken up later by conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro, who said the response to Schultz “demonstrates the communistic hatred on the left for anyone who makes it big.” [It should say something to Schultz that his biggest proponents thus far have been Ben Shapiro, Kellyanne Conway, and Jill Stein, don’t you think?]

Again, I’d love for him to join the Democratic field, but running as an undefended will do absolutely nothing but help put Trump back in the White House, where he can further evade justice and lead the nation further to the far right. No, this has to be all about Schultz’s ego, and his belief that, as a billionaire, he has a right to cut in line… To reiterate, Schultz has no path to victory as an independent candidate with a 4% favorability rating. He can never win. All he can do is help Donald Trump, and hurt the eventual Democratic candidate.

I could go on and theorize about Steve Schmidt’s motivation in pushing Schultz down this path, but they don’t matter. What matters is that Democratic Party hold together and stay unified around the message that no third-party candidates will be welcome in 2020, as there’s just too much hanging in the balance.

Here, with more on Schultz’s chances, is fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

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  1. Lynne
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Schultz would have much of a chance in the Democratic Primaries. I think he knows it too. I am not entirely sure he would split the anti-Trump vote as much as he might split the Trump vote. Certainly the way the Democrats are distancing themselves from him is an indication that they are working that angle. If Schultz can be made to be seen as a victim of the horrible left, it could motivate those voters who hate the Democratic party and who may be seeing Trump as weakening to vote for Schultz.

  2. John Galt
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Why do you hate successful white men so much? Why can’t you accept that man who built a successful chain of coffee shops might also be able to navigate complicated international politics and lead us to a better future? Why do you hate America so much?

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I wrote about this on another thread but since you quoted Bloomberg. He is looking at a run as a Dem if Biden doesn’t run, which would be fine if he were running on his own merits and legacy as a moderate GOP mayor, but he has engaged a massive data harvesting operation to manipulate the electorate and play to fears (and his bet) that a woman or person of color can’t win. Bloomberg wants to guard against Trump winning but also, and especially, anyone on the progressive left winning. And he’s going to wage a media manipulation campaign to do so– which is simply code for playing to fears. It could be as damaging as the Bernie bros (yes, they were real for god’s sake) fear-mongering and predjudicial assaults on HRC.

    Bloomberg wants to maintain the status quo– or return to it. Trump is a disrupter as are many in the field of Dem candidates and prospective candidates. Let’s not give him too much credit here. I think he represents as much risk to the party and our future as Schultz does.

    All of this was leaked (likely by Bloomberg) this weekend as a ‘secret’ plan in order to get more media coverage. That’s one way to float an idea.

    We’ll see if he would allow his data organization to assist a progressive Dem nominee if they should win the primary. If so, I will gladly eat crow. I don’t mind pool driven candidacies but I want a candidate with leadership chops not a robo-candidate saying whatever it takes no matter the cost. That’s pretty much what Trump was and I know he won but it’s still not worth it to sacrifice all integrity. We need bold progressive solutions now more than ever.

  4. M
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Even if all of that is true, Jean, at least Bloomberg is coming from a place of wanting to defeat Trump. The same cannot be said of Schultz. And I cannot imagine that Bloomberg would not share his data with the primary winner, should he lose. He wouldn’t be my favorite candidate, but I think he comprehends what’s at stake.

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    You missed my larger point, Mark. I believe his intentions are good; I don’t trust his strategy. I think it mimics Trump’s in that it is just about creating a feedback loop based on what the audience wants and repeating that two them to get elected. And I think his intention is 100% to prevent progressives from succeeding. Everything you say is wrong with the country 9wall St dominance; income inequality etc) is what Bloomberg seeks to protect. (He’s good on climate action though) His expressed alternate candidate is Biden… What does that tell you?

    Only old white rich dudes think that old rich white dudes are the safe bet for moving the Dem party forward and defeating Trump.

  6. Jill Stein voter
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    “who remember that third-party candidate Jill Stein essentially handed the White House to Donald Trump in 2016 by acting as a spoiler”..It is so good to know that the Democrats want my vote so much in the next election that they want to continue to engage in voter shaming. Have a candidate who credibly advocates for policies that will benefit me and they will get my vote.

  7. Jill Stein voter
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    “who remember that third-party candidate Jill Stein essentially handed the White House to Donald Trump in 2016 by acting as a spoiler”..It is so good to know that the Democrats want my vote so much in the next election that they want to continue to engage in voter shaming. Have a candidate who credibly advocates for policies that will benefit me and they will get my vote.
    “that would otherwise likely have gone to Hillary Clinton. ” Far more Democrats sat out the election in Michigan in 2016 than independents voted for Stein. If the Democrats think that voter shaming is the solution they will just be handing Trump another 4 years.

  8. Jill Stein voter
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Of course it is this kind of Democratic Party mis-information that makes it hard for me to ever want to vote for them. MM says, that Jill Stein is one of “his biggest proponents”. This statement implies that Ms. Stein is endorsing Shultz candidacy, which is a lie. What Ms. Stein says is she supports his RIGHT to run as an Independent. But Democrats don’t understand nuance–particularly if it challenges the two party monopoly. After all Shultz describes himself as a “life long” Democrat-who like many other “life long” Democrats are in favor of tax cuts for the rich and entitlement cuts for the poor.
    If we only had an opposition party.

  9. wobblie
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    The establishment Democratic narrative that MM parrots ranks right up there with supporting the intelligence community. In Michigan in 2016 HRC got 78,000 fewer votes than Obama got in 2012. Trump got nearly 200,000 more votes than Romney. Gary Johnson got over three times as many votes (171,000) as Stein. 340,000 Michigan voters voted third party in 2016 ( only 51000 were Stein voters). In 2012 fewer than 50000 Michigan voters went 3rd. party (Stein got 21000). In the two years since the election I’ve not seen a single post blaming Gary Johnson for the Trump win, but simply looking at vote totals demonstrates he had a much bigger impact on the outcome than Stein and the progressives.

    But like always, the Demorats will always hit and insult those to the left of them, while adopting a conservative agenda. After all as Chuck Schumer said in the summer of 2016, ““For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” but evidently not in Michigan.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie– I don; t disagree with your overall assessment re the Dems moving right, but Johnson was not taking votes from Clinton, Stein was, so Mark’s analysis was apt. The election was close and any factor that suits one’s political viewpoint can become THE reason HRC lost. I’m more interested in how and why so many Dems (not just on the left) came to dislike HRC in the primary. I know I’m interested in that angle because of my political inclination.

    I will admit that I don’t think the far left of the party is well defined anymore. We have people here (mostly if not all older white men) who are far to the left economically and re foreign policy but who dismiss and seem to fear social justice activism. I’m for sure more pragmatic about progressive change and not suspicious of incrementalism, but also am far left of many ‘leftists’ here re social justice issues. And then there’s the globalism v isolationism angle to contend with. We could be equally concerned with worker rights and poverty and economic security and even preventing unnecessary suffering/violence abroad, and support either position. (I know you don’t believe this is possible, Wobblie) I don’t think the left is at all well defined and I’m not sure it ever has been. I recently heard about how Michelle Obama’s father was long excluded from union membership as a Black man. It’s ok for us to be diverse. We probably always have been when we were successful politically. What I don’t want Dems to be is fearful and so overly safe and/or disingenuous. And I don’t want that because I think it’s a losing strategy, short and long term. We need a populist with a clear point of view and a workable plan. I don’t care what gender or race beyond that. We don’t need a billionaire or ex-vice president. We don’t need an establishment candidate who will run by playing not just to fear of Trump but fear of social and economic justice– ie the primary concerns of our most loyal base of support. We should know that by now…

  11. Donald Trump
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your vote, Wobblie! Couldn’t have done it without you! MAGA!

  12. Bob
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Sherrod Brown is the guy

  13. verifyfirst
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    This cannard about Jill Stein having put Trump in office needs to stop. Bill Clinton put Trump in office, with NAFTA and other neo-liberal “reforms”. Many hundred thousand union members and retirees in Michigan, who had slavishly followed their union’s recommendation and voted twice for Obama (or had not voted at all), voted for Trump because he talked about unfair trade. As one Local union retiree said, “if Trump does 10% of what he says, that will be 100% more than Hillary would do”. And they were right–Trump did immediately pull the US out of the TTIP trade deal.

    And don’t forget the 172,000 Michiganders who voted for the Libertarian candidate, 16,000 for US taxpayers, 8,000 for Independent, and 2,000 for Socialist. Probably 500 for Daffy Duck too…..(he was a write-in….).

    Seriously, though, how many black Obama Michigan voters in 2008 and 2012 did not turn out for Hillary in 2016? More than 10,000. . And why would that be? Because Hillary didn’t seriously contest the state with her billion plus dollar campaign? Because her polling told her she was up 5 points (even though Debbie Dingel told Hillary Michigan was in play, and Dingel actually set her up own GOTV vote campaign she was so frustrated with Clinton’s efforts in the state?).

    You can’t even assume a Stein voter would otherwise have been a Hillary voter–they might well have stayed home instead too.

    So you can blame lots of things, but “Stein” is at most a very small part of the answer, as otherwise convenient and easy as it might be. I will say that every Bernie supporter I know (and that’s a lot of people) did vote for Clinton in the end, with massive disgust. Some of them had to get absentee ballots and have significant others do the dirty deed, but they signed it and sent it in.

  14. Bob
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I just hope the superdelegates and DNC agenda don’t decide who our candidate is this time. Clinton was so clearly a poor choice to anyone who was being honest about her prospects. I personally think Sherrod Brown stands a better chance than anyone but I fear the “old white guy” tag, along with no war chest will make that impossible. If the front-runner who does best happens to be a minority and/or a woman, fantastic. But don’t let them set the agenda again.
    I think they should all have to pledge to pool their resources at the end of the primary process for the candidate in the general. You know, socialism. I’ve got my calendar counting down to AOC being eligible anyway.

  15. Sad
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink


    It seems like climate change is our most pressing problem. If Bloomberg could take care of that it would give AOC sometime to get ready to come in after him to clean up our social problems.

    Maybe he deserves a hearing?

  16. Lynne
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I actually think it is for the best if the Jill Stein voters don’t get too involved with the Democratic party. Then no one has to listen to them. It is way better for the party to track right and pick up those moderates like Bloomberg who might have otherwise been Republicans. There are more of them. The Jill Stein voters have already proved that they care more about ideological purity than the actual rights of marginalized people. The ones I know keep saying stuff like “find a candidate who I really like” as if that is possible in a large party with many competing ideologies. The much better strategy is to ignore them and hope the primary process produces a candidate most people like which frankly, is WAY more possible if they aren’t involved in the process.

  17. Bob
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Trusting Bloomberg seems only marginally smarter than trusting Trump

  18. Jean Henry
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    verify first– agreed that HRC screwed up by not campaigning here. As Mark’s expert guest on his Saturday Six Pack said, the black voter levels in Michigan and everywhere returned to their pre-Obama levels. To blame her for not getting the same enthusiasm as Obama is silly.

    Bob– I like Sherrod Brown. I should have said ‘old establishment white guy.’ Race and gender are merely factors. HRC was not the candidate because of her gender. That suggestion is absurd.

    SAD– re climate change; it’s up to the voters to prioritize that. So far we have not done so. It’s been far down the list of public priorities. IF we don’t demand it more forcefully, climate action is not going to happen via the government, so then likely not at all. But that’s on us, not even the climate denialists. We (us on the left) just have not cared enough.

    Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.
    –Abraham Lincoln

  19. Lynne
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Re:”I just hope the superdelegates and DNC agenda don’t decide who our candidate is this time”

    I like the idea of having primary elections. Which of course is how the Democrats have been deciding who our candidate is going to be. HRC got *3 million* more primary votes in 2016 than anyone else. The narrative that the superdelegates decided anything is false. With that said, in 2020, there have been reforms so they will be less of a factor.

    I look forward to a lively and hopefully less divisive primary season. I haven’t decided who I am backing yet but I have completely ruled out 2 potential candidates and mostly ruled out a few more such as Joe Biden in that there are candidates I like but not as much as some other candidates. I will almost certainly vote for anyone, including the two I really don’t like, in the general election though even if I have to throw up in my mouth a little in the voting booth to do it!

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    There are very very few times when I have voted for President with full confidence in and enthusiasm for the candidate. I love voting though. I love that we get to do it.

  21. Bob
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    There were states where Sanders thumped Hillary. Every single county in West Virginia. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 does a good job showing footage of WV in particular. Bernie trounced her and watched as they cast the vote for Clinton. Our system is so antiquated and broken. Superdelegates need to go. The electoral college needs to go. Hillary apologists need to go, still. Are the same people that spit “Bernie Bros” at every opportunity in 2016 going to go the same way in 2020? Pretending that the progressive movement isn’t real? Trump will get reelected.

  22. Eel
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Read this to see the phrase “cash-bloated guillotine basket bait” used in a sentence about Howard Schultz by Wire creator David Simon.

  23. anonimal
    Posted February 4, 2019 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you on wanting him to just run as a democrat. If he wants to bring the party to the center then he should get in the arena and fight to do it.

    I do think that dems are a little odd in their oppositions to billionaires running in general. He’s a billionaire for a reason, he’s a good manager. Being president is like being the middle manager in chief, and being in business is good practice, probably better practice than being a one term senator. I’d just prefer business->governor/senate->president path as an extra level of vetting.

    Just have the guts to run as a democrat and actually try to persuade people. You might be able to get some progressive pro-business reform done (VAT tax!) even if you don’t win the nomination.

  24. Wobblie
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Confusing regressive tax scenes like VAlue added taxes with progressive change is a real problem. If you live in the Bahamas where you tax all the foreign tourist based on there consumption might be better than an income tax. In the absence of having a foreign population that consumes more than the domestic population (Bahamas 500000 citizens. 10 million tourist). It becomes a major regressive tax scheme that the rich all love instead of an income tax. After all if you are rich enough you can make your expensive purchases in some other countries tax free zones. us poor folks don’t get that luxury.

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Anonimal— the critical difference between running a business well and running government well is that in business you can shove your problem off on society, the government etc, but government must care for everyone and the burden is increasingly is making up for the dhortcomings of businesses, or at least it should be.

    Many private schools do great until they need to serve everyone… And fully for-profit schools can only function by not serving.

  26. Jean Henry
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Poor Bob.

  27. Lynne
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. That was my reaction too. Poor Bob :(

  28. John Brown
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Fuck Schultz. We have a 2 party system. Until we switch to Parliamentary system a 3rd party is nothing but a monkey wrench.

    Outlaw billionaires.

  29. Jean Henry
    Posted February 5, 2019 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    There are many kinds of vanity campaigns:

  30. Anonimal
    Posted February 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Is it really that big of conceptual jump to go from managing a bureaucracy that serves your customers to managing a bureaucracy that serves everyone? It’s not like the president is answering calls at DHS. The schools struggle because they are still trying to make money. I think a better comparison is whether an effective for profit school principal could become effective public school principal. I think the answer is tea they could, but they need to be ready for public school challenges. There are a few principals locally who made that jump and they seem to find well.

    In the end the president is half figurehead, half 10 times removed manager, half Commander in Chief. It’s more that I think billionaires are automatically qualified, it’s just that I think they have good Management experience. I’d prefer them to take the Bloomberg route and do some type of public service first though.

  31. Anonimal
    Posted February 6, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, typed on a phone, not automatically qualifed, principals are doing well, etc

  32. Jean Henry
    Posted February 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I think Gov Snyder is someone who was very competent at business (v Trump) whose disastrous and fatal flaw was not thinking he had to listen to or serve everyone. He thought he had the answers from the data. He didn’t. I think his intentions were good. He just was able to make cuts/choices as a business man without having to deal with the downstream effects beyond his own company. That’s not the case with government. He was also not great at working political angles to get what he wanted legislatively. He didn’t know how to mediate. A CEO balancing competing interests within his own company to make decisions. The interests or consequences outside his realm are of no concern. Effective Politicians mediate between competing interests and suggest compromises to gather broad aggrement. They are accountable to broader impacts.

    When we review a ceo’s Legacy we aren’t considering the broader impacts of his company’s work. It’s not that ceo’s Couldn’t be great leaders; it’s just that what we value them and what bring them success is contrary to what we value in politicians and what brings politicians success.

    Business leaders make decisions that others must implement. The president doesn’t even make laws. Executive orders are over used now— left and right agree on that. It’s frustrating for command control leaders to have to kiss ass and convince. But that’s what politicians must do. Many of us just wish they’d work harder to convince more of us. We don’t really want them to be as autocratic as a ceo.

  33. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 6, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    What’s going on in Virginia? Blackface Gov, rape allegation Lieutenant Gov, now blackface Attorney General too.

  34. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted February 6, 2019 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Maybe he wasn’t supposed to let the cat out of the bag about what they want to be able to do if an abortion fails to kill the baby.

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