Upset with the polarization he sees in the country, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is calling for a nationwide cutoff of all campaign contributions
On Tuesday night, Howard Schultz, the man who envisioned coffee as more than a morning jolt and transformed American urban culture, set out to do something even bigger. Now Schultz wants to help transform American government. And if his new venture can reawaken the promise of self-government the way his first venture -- Starbucks -- has opened the drowsy eyes of ordinary Americans, it will be a big step forward in reclaiming the time when being Americans together was more important to our public officials than being a Republican-American or a Democrat-American (the party identification being the important descriptive).
Schultz has put forth a plan that combines vision with practicality. Launched In a national telephone conversation hosted by No Labels, a non-partisan organization dedicated to re-establishing a government that puts problem-solving ahead of party advantage, Schultz has combined vision with practicality. His vision is new commitment to investment in job creation. But as one notes when observing Starbucks coffee shops on thousands of urban corners -- sites carefully selected and catering to virtually every caffeine-craving taste -- Schultz is no pie-in-the-sky daydreamer. Thus he has conceived of a practical way to get the attention of public officials who too often hew to a party line and play to a narrow ideological base. In the modern political world, in which getting one's message out to voters is a costly affair, Schultz has taken dead aim at the financial inbox. He is calling on citizens who share the frustration he feels, and that led to the creation of No Labels, to cut off all campaign contributions until "a transparent, comprehensive, bipartisan debt-and-deficit package is reached." He demands no particular outcome; he is silent as to whether taxes should be raised or entitlements reformed or military spending reduced. He is not trying to become a substitute for the president or the members of Congress. He is merely demanding -- and "demanding" is the right word -- that they all come together to put America back on "a path to long-term financial health and security."