Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starbucks CEO's Political Advice: Stunningly, Self-Defeatingly, Cynically Wrong

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz Talks to the MediaStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz blaming "Washington" for our problems is stunningly wrong. "Washington" did not take our economy hostage by creating a debt ceiling crisis. Republicans did. "Washington" did not turn down a $4 trillion deficit reduction package in the name of anti-tax orthodox. Republicans did.

I'm not saying all Democrats are blame-free, but reasonable Americans should not be mad at, say, Bernie Sanders. They should be mad at Republicans.

Saying reasonable Americans should stop contributing to all politicians regardless of sanity is self-defeatingly wrong. A friend approvingly posted Schultz's comments to Facebook, saying, "Stop feeding the monster."

But if you're reading this, you aren't one of the ones feeding the monsters. Just 150 wealthy people & couples have fed new Tea Party favorite Gov. Rick Perry $37 million and have seen a handsome return for their investment. Now as much as ever, America needs reasonable people to be engaged and reasonable politicians to be supported. Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers are not going to stop injecting huge sums of cash into funding Tea Party insanity. Telling reasonable people to boycott politics is equivalent to calling for only the forces of good to be disarmed.

Finally, refusing to assign blame to Republicans is cynically wrong. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) was the prime mover behind the Tea Party's creation of the voluntary debt ceiling crisis, and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) & Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went along with what they knew was bad politics & policy to avoid losing their leadership positions to the Tea Party hordes.

So why isn't Schultz blaming Republicans by name? It would be terrible for business! Can you imagine how much it money it would cost Starbucks if its CEO accurately blamed Republicans for creating political gridlock in an attempt to weaken Democrats & President Obama in advance of the 2012 election? Within minutes, GOP talking heads from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity would be telling their millions of followers to get their lattes from Dunkin' Donuts until Schultz was fired, which he would be in short order. I don't see Starbucks' Wall Street investors standing up for him, do you?

Instead, Schultz takes the easiest of routes - blaming "Washington" and literally asking people to do nothing. Soak in praise from the frustrated while not having to actually stick your neck out to change anything.

Look, if change is going to come to Washington, it's not going to come from a billionaire who screwed over Seattle SuperSonics fans. It's going to come from millions of reasonable Americans deciding that even after a long day of getting the kids ready, getting the kids to school, going to work, putting up with their boss' shit, coming home, making dinner, cleaning up, and getting the kids to bed, they still have enough energy to put pen to paper and write their members of Congress letters asking them to stop fighting about how much to gut education spending and start talking about how much we can reasonably bring taxes back to Clinton-era levels to help build a better America.

And if your members of Congress don't listen to you, find someone to run against them and give them money and knock on doors for them. It's hard work and it takes a long time and you don't always win. But if you want to change things in Washington, we need more reasonable people to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work, not fewer.
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