Howard Schultz joined Starbucks early in its existence and turned the company into a global mega-chain. Last June he left his job as Starbucks CEO, and in a 60 Minutes interview broadcast Sunday night, he said he’s “seriously thinking” of running for president as a “centrist independent” who would advocate for progressive social policies and fiscal restraint.
This is a bad idea, and not just because it could siphon votes from the eventual Democratic nominee or because we should probably stop letting rich people with no government experience run the country simply because they have a lot of money to spend on campaigns. It’s a bad idea even on Schultz’s terms. If he really wants to promote his ideas and serve his country in 2020, he needs to challenge Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary.
Schultz has very little chance of winning as an independent. The portion of self-described “moderate” voters in the U.S. has been declining for years, and even within that swing cohort, social conservatives who hold fiscally liberal views are much more common than social progressives who are fiscally conservative. (Put more bluntly, aging white people who want to protect and expand entitlement programs but hold reactionary views on race and immigration significantly outnumber Schultz’s tribe of business-class flyers who believe in LGBT rights.) Schultz also has low name recognition and made inadvertently clear in the 60 Minutes interview that he doesn’t understand how the process of getting your name on the ballot works for independent candidates.*