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Howard Schultz, And Independents Vs. Centrists In America: They're Not The Same46:59
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Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz looks out at the audience during the kickoff event of his book promotion tour Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in New York. Democrats across the political spectrum lashed out at the billionaire businessman on Monday after he teased the prospect of an independent 2020 bid, a move Democrats fear would split their vote and all but ensure President Donald Trump's re-election. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Former Starbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schultz looks out at the audience during the kickoff event of his book promotion tour Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in New York. Democrats across the political spectrum lashed out at the billionaire businessman on Monday after he teased the prospect of an independent 2020 bid, a move Democrats fear would split their vote and all but ensure President Donald Trump's re-election. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Find our buildout from this hour, featuring a partial transcription, here.


With Meghna Chakrabarti

Former Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz prepares a 2020 run as an independent. Others have tried before him. Are any of them really independents, or just partisans in disguise?

Guests

David Frum, staff writer at The Atlantic, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, author of "Trumpocracy: The Corruption Of The American Republic." (@davidfrum)

Lee Drutman, senior fellow at at New America, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on a range of public policy issues. Author of the forthcoming "Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America." (@leedrutman)

Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a public policy organization that seeks to advance a liberal viewpoint. She has worked for Presidents Clinton and Obama and for Sen. Hillary Clinton on health care and domestic policy. (@neeratanden)

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: "Howard Schultz May Save the Democratic Party From Itself" — "The Starbucks founder Howard Schultz is the Twitter villain of the hour. If hot takes actually generated heat, Schultz would already have been vaporized under the onrush of magma. His offense: contemplating a run for president as a self-funded independent centrist.

"Many people could raise a legitimate complaint against this expensive plan, starting with Schultz’s heirs. But the Twitter complaints arise from concern not that Schultz is about to waste his money, but that he might spend it effectively. He might weaken the Democratic candidate in 2020, and thereby help reelect President Donald Trump.

"Actually, this complaint reveals why Schultz’s exploration is just the help America needs. Schultz seems to intend to run as a compassionate businessman concerned that the Democratic Party is veering too far to the left. In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, he complained of promises of free health care and free college tuition."

Washington Post: "The media feel safest in the middle lane. Just ask Jeff Flake, John Kasich and Howard Schultz." — "One of supposed golden rules of journalism goes like this: 'If everybody’s mad at your coverage, you must be doing a good job.'

"That’s ridiculous, of course, though it seems comforting. If everybody’s mad, it may just mean you’re getting everything wrong.

"But it’s the kind of muddled thinking that feels right to media people who practice what I’ll call the middle-lane approach to journalism — the smarmy centrism that often benefits nobody, but promises that you won’t offend anyone.

"Who is the media’s middle-lane approach actually good for?

"Not the public, certainly, since readers and viewers would benefit from strong viewpoints across the full spectrum of political thought, not just minor variations of the same old stuff.

"But it is great for politicians and pundits who bill themselves as centrists."

New York Times: "Opinion: The Howard Schultz Delusion" — "When I was in college, a fair number of my fellow students liked to describe themselves as 'socially liberal and economically conservative.' This was the 1990s, when Bill Clinton’s 'third way' was thriving, and I was attending a college — Yale — where the student body was predominantly affluent.

"When members of the national media — whose incomes also tend to be above average — describe the prototypical centrist voter, this is the same image they often have in mind: socially liberal and economically conservative.

"But it’s a big myth."

NPR: "Why Howard Schultz's Independent Bid For President Is A Radical Idea" — "There has been no shortage of reaction to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's declaration that he is seriously considering running — as an independent — for president.

"Democrats have warned that he would get President Trump re-elected if he goes through with it. Trump seemed to be baiting him into running, tweeting that he doesn't have the 'guts' to do it. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that it would be such a 'gift' to Trump that the president should give Starbucks free rent in Trump Tower.

"For his part, Schultz believes there is an opening in the middle.

"'I can't think of anything that is a more quintessential expression of our democracy than providing the American people with a choice that doesn't have to be binary between a Republican and Democrat,' Schultz told NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview that aired Tuesday on Morning Edition."

Vox: "Why America’s 2-party system is on a collision course with our constitutional democracy" — "There was a time, several decades ago, when America’s two-party system was praised for its moderation. Unlike European parliamentary democracies where 'dogmatic ideological parties' of Europe thrived, America’s winner-take-all electoral system seemed to reward and therefore encourage parties and candidates with broad national appeal. No party, it was argued, could simply give up on half of the electorate. Similarly, no party could convincingly win a majority by putting forward extremist anti-system candidates far outside the mainstream.

"Obviously something has gone wrong with this theory. Instead of being rejected as outside the mainstream, Donald Trump, an extremist anti-system candidate, simply redefined what 'mainstream' is for almost half of the electorate.

"And today, both American parties regularly forsake about half the electorate. Or even more than half, really."

This program aired on January 31, 2019.

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