I was pleasantly surprised to learn this weekend that former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schulz is considering running for the office of President of the United States in 2020 – as an independent. The news has sparked concern among Democrats, who fear such a step might divide the progressive/liberal vote and ensure another four year term for President Trump. However, I think that’s a short-sighted perspective.
The problem at present is precisely that the two major political parties have made it almost impossible for any candidate outside their ranks to succeed in becoming President. The entire system is geared to a two-party political process, both of which have ensured (acting together and independently) that there’s little or no room for anything or anyone else. It’s to their advantage to set up the process to suit themselves, and they’ve done so with gusto.
I think the only way to break the Republicans’ and Democrats’ stronghold on the process is to chip away at it from all sides. I’d like to see a dozen independent candidates, not just one, each with a credible message and an attraction to a part of the electorate. If each of those candidates can attract an average of just 2½% of the votes, that’ll take 30% of the votes in a presidential election off the table. The two big political parties simply can’t afford that, so their reaction will have to be one of two things. Either they’ll join forces to block anyone outside their ranks from running at all – which I don’t think the American people will tolerate – or they’ll have to make the process more transparent, more inclusive of views outside their own boundaries. What’s not to like about that?
As for Mr. Schulz, I’m unlikely to vote for him, given what I know about most of his policy positions. However, I’m encouraged to read that he regards the national deficit – currently standing at about $22 trillion – as the biggest single domestic problem confronting this country. I couldn’t agree more! It overhangs any and every other policy option, and will doom them all unless it’s dealt with sooner rather than later. We simply can’t continue deficit spending indefinitely. That’s what got us into this fiscal mess (courtesy of both the Republican and Democratic Parties), and it’s what’s stopping us getting out of it.
If it turns out that Mr. Schulz is the only candidate who understands that, and puts forward credible policy suggestions to deal with it, I think a lot of people might vote for him despite his other positions, because he’ll be the only candidate who “gets it”.