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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.

------------v------------

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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Comments

  • Illinoisroy
    February 11, 2019 at 12:15 p.m.

    "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." Well we have one in office now so the Electoral College didn't work!

  • Illinoisroy
    February 11, 2019 at 12:18 p.m.

    GMAC, noted that you referenced Clinton as an example of not winning majority popular vote but seems like we have a couple of more recent examples (Bush & Trump) that you didn't mention for some reason?

    Enjoyed our time together at the bath house last night and hope we can do it again soon. Love ya sweetie.

  • PopMom
    February 11, 2019 at 1 p.m.

    GenMac,

    In this day and age, many women do not have to take their husband's name. I chose to change because his last name was prettier.

  • Waitjustaminute
    February 11, 2019 at 1:15 p.m.

    GMac: "I, along with 19,742,266 other voters voted for Perot in 1992."
    So in other words, you were one of the 19,742,267 fools who inflicted Bill Clinton on us. Democrats know he would never had won if Perot hadn't siphoned off votes from Bush; that's why they're going crazy over the possibility that Schultz might do the same to them this year.

  • WhododueDiligence
    February 11, 2019 at 1:25 p.m.

    "Well we have one in office now so the Electoral College didn't work."
    Good point, IllinoisRoy. But without the EC system--if presidential elections were won by the popular vote winner--it would be much easier for misleading self-interested populists or other unhinged scoundrels to win presidential elections. In a close 3-way race they might win with only 35 percent of the vote. In a close 4-way race they might win with under 30 percent of the vote. That would be a recipe for disaster given the old adage that shady politicians can fool some of the people all of the time.
    *
    The electoral college--with its high bar of attaining the majority of all electoral votes--reduces the probability of shady populists and other scoundrels winning the presidency. But the founders couldn't make it completely foolproof.

  • GeneralMac
    February 11, 2019 at 1:43 p.m.

    PopMom.......I was a Minnesota resident when Klobuchar first started moving up.

    She admitted she kept her maiden name for name recognition advantage.

  • WhododueDiligence
    February 11, 2019 at 1:49 p.m.

    If no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, the presidential race is decided in the House of Representatives. How many House members are in the Howard Schultz party? None. Schultz is a party of one. Like Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Jill Stein, he's just another unhinged loose cannon with a big ego on the loose. Or, more cynically, he might have an ulterior motive. As a billionaire, maybe he liked Trump's big tax break for billionaires so much that he's angling to get another one in Trump's second term.

  • LRCrookAtty
    February 11, 2019 at 2:38 p.m.

    PM...
    *
    We don't need to change an entire voting system, just because your candidate or someone else's candidate lost. It works and gives each state a say so in the election. Doing so would eliminate the fly over states. From one election to another the swing states change. Just in my 50 years I have seen swing states change several times.

  • LRCrookAtty
    February 11, 2019 at 2:43 p.m.

    You guys keep harping on the big tax cut for big business. Really, any federal tax cut is going to favor the people that pay taxes and when 90% is paid by the top 20% earners they are the ones that should get a tax cut. Maybe at some point these big business entities can identify you that do not like the fact that they make money and fire your a$$e$ then hire ones that are appreciative of the job and the ability to pay taxes and raise a family.

  • mozarky2
    February 11, 2019 at 3:09 p.m.

    Come the revolution, dims will no longer have to hide their true feelings. I bet it just about killed that terror supporting pos to make that apology.
    From The Hill:
    Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) apologized on Monday for tweets suggesting that American lawmakers were motivated by money to defend Israel.

    Omar's apology came after she spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who along with other House Democratic leaders called on her to apologize for the "use of anti-Semitic tropes" about Jewish people and money.

    "Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize," Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, said in a statement.

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