Since the day he started getting ratioed on Twitter, pundits and journalists have been wondering why Taster's Choice dweeb Howard Schultz has been "seriously considering running for president" as an Independent, which could risk throwing the 2020 election to Trump.
As you've likely heard, nobody wants this. Washington Republicans still haven't forgiven him for selling the Sonics, which, ha. When rumors of a run started coming out last week, Washington Democrats immediately freaked out and told him to back off. Even fellow centrist billionaire Michael Bloomberg told him not to do it. Everyone assumed Schultz had fallen victim to clever consultants looking to make some brisk cash on an egotistical CEO's wet dream of representing "a silent majority" of independents who don't even exist, but that answer didn't really satisfy. He might be a completely out-of-touch businessman, but the fact that we all tripped over a Starbucks on the way to work suggests he's not a complete idiot. So why is he running? Today we finally have our answer.
In an interview with CNBC Monday night, Schultz said he didn't want to run as a Democrat because he doesn't like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 70 percent income tax on earnings over $10 million, which currently enjoys a 59 percent approval rating. And on Tuesday, Schultz said Kamala Harris's support for Medicare for All was "not American," and that Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax "ridiculous."
All of these recent comments suggest a few things. Thing 1: Schultz is running for president because he doesn't want to pay his fair share in taxes. He's perfectly content to help reelect Trump and ensure four more years of chaos and pain, so long as it means that the brown lady from New York can't fight to restore the tax code to Eisenhower-era levels. He won't even say what his own idea for "comprehensive tax reform" is, and I would bet that's because he doesn't have one. He's just looking out for his own money, which he only has in the first place thanks to Bill Gates's dad. Thing 2: Schultz is very comfortable using racist/xenophobic dog whistles when talking about "fiscal conservatism!" Maybe he should consider running with the Republicans?
Splinter called Schultz's bid a "hostage negotiation" with the American electorate, which is exactly what this is. If Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, then this wealthiest American is going to tap his own funds to throw the election and take the country down with him.
But Schultz isn't dumb for thinking that such a gamble might work. When Seattle wanted to pass a tax on big business to fund housing and homelessness, another Seattle billionaire, Jeff Bezos, held the town hostage by halting construction downtown and funding the repeal campaign. Billionaires are feeling threatened, which means that progressive movements are working. But it also means that we have to deal with this plutocratic revolt, these increasingly public displays of how much power these assholes can wield. It's galling to watch it all play out, but at least we can see it.
The endurance of Schultz's ego will be tested in the coming months, if he lasts that long. He's getting widely panned from the right and the left, and no cavalry appears to be emerging from the center. Locally, Indivisible WA-8 is holding a rally this Thursday evening outside The Moore, where Schultz is scheduled to read from his new book, From the Ground Up. Democratic chair Tina Podlodowski will speak at the rally.
And what if his plan backfires? What if his run helps secure the future he's spending so much money trying to prevent? Nate Silver thinks Schultz will steal more Trump voters than Dem voters, especially if the Democratic nominee is farther to the left. And Alex Shephard over at The New Republic is hoping Schultz continues to run so that the dream of a centrist unifying the country can finally die its well-deserved death once he ultimately loses. All of that sounds pretty good, actually.
So, yeah, maybe a Schultz run isn't such a bad thing. And now I'm kinda starting to feel bad for him. Running for president has got to be one of the more expensive forms of tax evasion out there.