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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Spars With Democrats at Senate Hearing
At a recent Senate hearing, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz came under fire from Democratic senators who were concerned about the impact of a third-party independent presidential candidacy on the upcoming 2020 election. Schultz has been flirting with the possibility of running for president as an independent candidate, much to the chagrin of Democrats who fear that his candidacy could siphon off votes from the Democratic nominee and hand the election to Donald Trump.
Schultz was invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on the subject of “Examining Private Sector Solutions to Address the Root Causes of America’s Unsustainable Fiscal Path.” However, the hearing turned out to be more of a political spectacle than a serious discussion of policy proposals.
Schultz was repeatedly interrupted and criticized by Democratic senators who accused him of being out of touch with ordinary Americans and of posing a threat to the future of American democracy.
Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, for example, questioned Schultz’s qualifications to run for president, saying, “I don’t mean to be rude, but do you have any experience in government or public service?” Schatz went on to suggest that Schultz had no right to “swoop in” and try to upend the political process.
Schultz responded by saying that he was a “lifelong Democrat” who was considering an independent candidacy because he believed that the two major parties had failed to address the country’s pressing problems. He cited issues such as climate change, healthcare, and income inequality as areas where he believed that a third-party candidate could offer innovative and effective solutions.
Senator Tom Carper of Delaware questioned Schultz’s commitment to the Democratic Party, noting that he had only voted in four of the past 11 elections. “I’m one of these people who believes that if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” Carper said.
Schultz responded by saying that he had been working to promote voter registration and turnout through his work with Starbucks, which had launched a program called “Upstanders” to encourage political engagement at the local level.
Despite the contentiousness of the hearing, Schultz tried to strike a conciliatory tone by saying that he respected the concerns of Democrats and that he was willing to listen to their feedback.
“I’m here today because I love this country and I’m deeply concerned about its future,” Schultz said. “I want to engage in a civil dialogue with anyone who is willing to have one. I’m not looking to be a spoiler, I’m looking to be a problem-solver.”
Schultz’s potential candidacy has been a source of controversy in Democratic circles, with many party leaders and activists warning that an independent candidacy could undermine the party’s chances of defeating Trump. Some have even threatened to boycott Starbucks if Schultz decides to run.
Others, however, see Schultz as a refreshing alternative to the polarizing figures in both the Republican and Democratic parties. They argue that as a successful businessman who has built a global brand, Schultz could bring a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to the presidential race.
At the end of the day, the hearing did little to clarify the issues surrounding Schultz’s potential candidacy. Instead, it highlighted the deep divisions and partisan politics that are roiling American society today.
However, one thing is clear: Schultz’s candidacy, if it materializes, will be one of the most hotly contested and closely watched campaigns in recent memory. Whether he is ultimately successful or not, he has already succeeded in sparking a much-needed debate about the future of American politics and the role that independent candidates can play in shaping it.