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I don't know much about Howard Schultz, and some of what I do know--that he opened up Starbucks bathrooms to vagrants as a silly exercise in politically correct virtue signaling--isn't particularly reassuring.

Still, I admit to being more impressed by people who have made their money in the private sector like Schultz than by the kind of pests who run for one public office after another and spend their lives sponging off the taxpayers.

As much as it runs counter to the mushy egalitarianism of our age, I believe most rich people got there because they worked harder, were smarter, took more risks, and had better character than the rest of us.

Capitalism and capitalists actually create wealth by creating useful products and services (even if it comes in the form of coffee shops); socialism and socialists ultimately create nothing but shared misery.

Within this context, as the Democratic Party lurches toward Marx's collectivist utopia it will be interesting to see how they package it for consumption in a country to this point largely immune to the virus. A new, more acute version of the primary/general election problem has likely arrived in which Democrats put on their socialist clothes to woo an increasingly socialist base in the primary and then make sure to stash them in the closet before November.

Given this, one has to appreciate Schultz's skepticism toward his (apparently former) party's array of currently fashionable but thoroughly nutty ideas--Medicare for all, free college, a 70 percent tax rate, a guaranteed government job, a $15 minimum wage, the Green New Deal, etc. (the list is getting so long as to raise the question of what Democratic ideas these days aren't nutty).

Even more amusing has been the fury on the left that the possibility of a Schultz third-party bid has provoked, as if the problem is him rather than them and he has no right to leave a party that has gone full Mad Hatter. The reaction to Schultz by Democrats ironically proves Schultz's point about what is happening to the Democrats--as the wannabe Riefenstahl of the radical left, Michael Moore, recently put it, "If you're moderate, stop being moderate."

The basis of the fury in Schultz's case stems not so much from his criticism of the Democrats' leftward lurch but fear that his candidacy would split the Democratic vote and re-elect Donald Trump (as if the kook we know would necessarily be worse than kooks we don't, like Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris).

But what Schultz is counting on is that a plurality of Americans, perhaps a majority, are neither Always Trumpers nor members of the "resistance." If he can play it the right way, defined as credibly presenting himself as a moderate, competent alternative to the unabashed Trotskyite that the Democrats nominate and the unhinged buffoon currently occupying the Oval Office, he might just have a shot.

In 2016, Americans were forced to choose between the two most unpopular presidential nominees in our nation's history, the political equivalents of the evil queen in Snow White and Lex Luthor (minus the intelligence and wit). It is unlikely that what they have witnessed since then, as Trump outrageousness provoked Democratic radicalization, has alleviated that revulsion.

As such, "none of the above" has likely never sounded better to more people.

There are few beliefs more firmly held, based on admittedly vast historical evidence, than that third parties can't succeed in American politics; that the structures and logic of our system discourage their formation by guaranteeing their failure.

In that sense, the belief has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy--third parties can't win because people don't vote for them because they think they can't win.

But such a belief also constitutes a form of conventional wisdom at a time when a great deal of such wisdom has been thrown out the window--few thought any European country would vote to leave the European Union, as Great Britain did. And virtually no one thought Trump had a chance to win the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency.

If we are living through a period of rampant populism, as many claim, there would be few more dramatic expressions of it than a rejection of both the major party presidential nominees next time around, in essence a discarding of the traditional two-party system.

Implicit in the claim that third parties can never succeed are actually some highly dubious, even noxious ideas--that what has long been must always be, that stasis rather than change best characterizes historical experience, and that the Democrats and Republicans are somehow entitled to pass power back and forth no matter how awful or out of touch with the voters they become--that we have no choice but to always accept what they give us.

The hunch is that Schultz can do much better than a John B. Anderson or a Ross Perot because there is a greater demand today for something different than what the Republicans (Trump) and Democrats (socialism and toxic identity politics) are offering up.

And in politics, as in all walks of life, supply inevitably arises to meet demand.


Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Editorial on 02/11/2019

Print Headline: BRADLEY R. GITZ: Schultz can win (Part I)


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  • Morebeer
    February 11, 2019 at 9:34 a.m.

    What’s so “kooky” about a 70% tax rate on high incomes? We’ve had higher such rates in the past to pay for wars. Since the second Gulf war, we’ve been involved in three long conflicts fought off the budget with borrowed dollars (remibis?); time to pay the bills. Higher minimum wage isn’t kooky either. Time is a person’s most valuable asset, and a full-time working person should earn enough so that they’re not on food stamps, public housing and Medicaid. It’s kooky that such scenarios are true of people who work full time for some of our richest and largest corporations. Exceptions for part-time teen workers should be considered. People on Medicare like Medicare, and there’s no reason to think people who voluntarily buy in wouldn’t like it too. The cost of such a program has to be considered alongside the $3.5 trillion we spend annually on health care, revenue from new premiums, the benefits of savings from Medicare’s additional buying and rate-setting clout, and reduced reliance on Medicaid. Walmart squeezes efficiencies from suppliers, and Medicare can too if Congress frees it to do so. I’m a little leery of free college schemes. I believe better results come from participants having skin in the game. Arkansas lottery scholarships were not well-spent by as many as a third of recipients who didn’t finish one year of college. The scholarships were changed to provide more benefits to students in their second, third and fourth years. Not a kooky idea at all.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at 10:19 a.m.

    I disagree with Gitz on this subject.

    I, along with 19,742,266 other voters voted for Perot in 1992.

    I like to bet on the horses at Oaklawn .
    A little risky despite doing research.

    However, a SAFE bet is that Schultz doesn't even come close to Perot's vote total in 2020.

    Maybe Schultz should worry about some ultra liberal deciding to start a boycott movement against Starbucks in retaliation.

    I doubt there are enough "right wingers" or "centrists" that frequent Starbucks to keep it going.

  • PopMom
    February 11, 2019 at 10:23 a.m.


    When there was a higher rate on incomes, there were more loopholes. If you put a 70% income on many wealthy people, they will just leave the country and go to a tax haven. Those near retirement might just put down their pens or close up their computers. How is one supposed to pay 70% in federal taxes, 8% in state taxes, 3% in local property taxes and pay sales taxes etc. and still live? Do you think that people want to go through years of medical school and a residency etc. if they can't reap some reward at the end? You need to go visit Cuba if you think extreme socialism or communism is such a good idea and that is basically what a 70% federal tax would be. It makes much more sense to have people who make more than $1 million a year, pay 38% to 42% and not have the 21% rate the Republicans just gave to many of them.

    Too many Democrats want one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate as the nominee such as Harris, Warren, or Sanders. Such a person probably will not win. The party needs to reach down into the progressive middle and pull out an Amy Klobuchar who is ranked around 27 to 33 depending on which ranking service you use.

    Schultz would be just a spoiler who could reelect Trump or Pence. We need ranked voting to keep us from getting extremists. We shouldn't have to choose between facism and socialism. Many of us just want decent capitalism with reasonable controls.

  • WhododueDiligence
    February 11, 2019 at 10:33 a.m.

    "But what Schultz is counting on is that a plurality of Americans, perhaps a majority, are neither Always Trumpers nor members of the 'resistance.'"
    Schultz has exactly the same chance of winning the 2020 presidential election as my dad's old plow horse had of running past Big Ike to win the 1950 Arkansas Derby. Even if Schultz pulls off a major miracle and wins a plurality of votes, he will lose in the Electoral College-decreed vote in the House of Representatives. It's a pipe dream to imagine the Always Trumpers and resistance-voter percentages will shrink so low that Schultz could win a majority. And as we've seen in 2000 and 2016, even if Schultz pulled off a super-duper caffeine-injected pie-in-the-sky 50-plus-percent majority, he could still easily lose.
    Unless something really, really weird happens before November of 2020, there's no earthly way Schultz can get 270 electoral votes. The Electoral College system is heavily rigged against third party candidates, and it's designed that way in part to reduce the probability that misleading self-interested populists or other unhinged scoundrels will win the presidency. That's one of the much-maligned Electoral College system's redeeming values.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at 10:53 a.m.

    Good point by WHODOO about the e lectoral college.

    Despite Perot getting 19,742,267 POPULAR votes, he got ZERO electoral votes.

    Electoral voting is how we elect our president here in the US.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at 10:58 a.m.

    PopMom........don't we already have "ranked voting" in the primary?

    Each state gets X amount of delegates to the convention and the state delegates are based on vote totals.

    Ranked voting in a presidential election would/could be a disaster .

    Be careful what you wish for !

  • PopMom
    February 11, 2019 at 11:24 a.m.


    We would have gotten Al Gore over W. We need ranked voting in the general to avoid extremism and to allow moderate candidates to have a chance. I'm afraid that I might be forced to vote for somebody too liberal because I can't throw away my vote on a third party candidate.

  • RBear
    February 11, 2019 at 11:55 a.m.

    PM I don't think fake understands what "ranked voting" means. I don't have time to explain that to him, knowing it'll probably fly over his head.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at noon

    RBear...... yes I know what ranked voting means.

    It is usually favored to avoid a run off in races that REQUIRE the winner to get over 50% of the vote.

    We don't elect our president by popular vote.
    (seems everyone except YOU and John Brummett know that )

    Bill Clinton didn't get 50% of the popular vote in 1992 yet his first term was just as legitimate as his second term.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at 12:10 p.m.

    Amy Klobuchar ?

    Don't you mean Mrs John Bessler?
    (married 25+ years)

    I guess when you have to ride the name recognition of your daddy because he was a popular Minneapolis Tribune columnist, you keep the name "Bessler" hidden.

    Glad their daughter doesn't have to hide the Bessler name.
    She goes by Klobuchar Bessler.