BusinessColumnistsWilliam Reed

BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Howard Schultz, Political Spoiler or Change Agent?

American voters now have a choice among 10 major-party candidates, including Cory Booker, an African-American man, and Black female Kamala Harris. Despite the fact that Blacks have declared for that office, 20 percent of respondents to a recent poll aren’t currently supporting either major-party candidate.

But just how angry are Americans with establishment candidates and with the current political system? Although Blacks are disenfranchised, will they be willing to give up what they consider “political power” to an independent candidate or a new party?

Blacks’ participation in national politics and issues has digressed in the mainstream to the point where our opinions are characterized simply as “immoral” or “racist.” Across America, Blacks are cast as “victims” and paid little attention. It should be through diversity of opinion that we grow together as a country; instead, our leaders and media leverage this diversity to tear us apart.

Recently, billionaire and former Starbucks CEO Schultz, who is openly mulling an independent White House bid in 2020, was heckled during a book tour stop by an audience member who ridiculed his possible run as “egotistical.”

Why? Because countless Democrats fear a third-party or independent candidate would merely siphon votes from their nominee. The Schultz book “From the Ground Up” is part memoir and part blueprint for positive change.

Schultz has aspirations to run for president as an independent. We think that Blacks are ideally and philosophically wed to the Democrat Party, but Schultz makes some suggestions for independent thinking that more Blacks need to heed.

Schultz and his candidacy should be viewed by Blacks for his works and corporate and social and cultural impact. A family-values advocate, he built the kind of company that strove to balance profit and human dignity.

Schultz is not a bad role model for Black youth. Under his leadership, Starbucks set an unusually good example of corporate and social responsibility. He also already has hired two big guns from previous presidential campaigns — Bill Burton and Steve Schmidt of Barack Obama and John McCain fame, respectively.

“Both parties are complicit, having made a deal with the devil,” Schultz said. “The devil with regard to the health care crisis is the way in which the pharmaceutical companies have lobbied inside Washington with a level of self-interest that basically controls how people vote.”

He believes the answer to this problem is strong leadership that keeps American people as the priority and puts pressure on pharmaceutical companies to remove self-interest from the equation. He also took a swipe at Democrats for championing free health care.

“If that plan were executed, it would create a $32 trillion bill in 10 years,” he said. “It’s not realistic to execute.”

Schultz’s “independent” run is viewed unfavorably by Democrats, Republicans and independents. In a Change Research poll, 50 percent of Democratic respondents said they viewed Schultz as “unfavorable,” while 43 percent of Republican and 31 percent of independent respondents said the same.

Schultz bought Starbucks, which grew from 11 stores to more than 28,000 under his leadership. In 2018, Starbucks ranked fifth on Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.”

He is a former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics and was a member of the Board of Directors at Square, Inc. He was named by Forbes in 2016 as the 232nd richest person in the U.S., with a net worth of $3.1 billion.

If only any of that mattered to Blacks. It should — and we should stop being prime prey for professional politicians.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.

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William Reed

William Reed is President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Press International. He has been a Media Entrepreneur for over two decades. A well-trained marketing and communications professional, Reed has a national reputation for his expert writing, speaking, organizational, research, management and motivation abilities, along with strong managerial, presentation and sales skills.

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