April 14, 2021

Howard Schultz: the Starbucks coffee grower who aspires to the White House | Economy

Howard Schultz: the Starbucks coffee grower who aspires to the White House | Economy



The key concept is "silent majority". The first politician who used that expression in the United States was Richard Nixon, in 1969, to address a part of the population that did not participate in the protests against the Vietnam War, did not face the police and saw from his sofa the country torn by political polarization. The concept has returned to the debate this week from the hand of Howard Schultz, former president of Starbucks coffee shops. Schultz wants to present himself as an independent to the White House in 2020. He says he represents the silent majority that does not like Donald Trump but considers that the Democrats have become a radical party. It would be a center candidacy. Only one side is worried, the Democrats.

Howard Schultz (New York, 1953) He spent his childhood in a subsidized apartment in an urbanization on the southeastern boundary of Brooklyn, "the last station of the L train", he tells in his recent book. "Throughout my life I have been tormented and encouraged by the memories of my childhood. In my father I saw what can happen to a person's life when he is stripped of dignity. From my mother I learned that this last train stop was not going to be the last stop of my life. " At 65, he is a multimillionaire. Forbes calculates his fortune at 3,400 million dollars (2,956 million euros). His name is perhaps not known all over the world, but his creation does. He is the man who built the Starbucks empire.

The story is worthy of the best book of self-improvement. He joined the company in 1982. It was a company that served coffee to hotels and bars. Given the reluctance of the company to give the green light to his plans – he wanted to move to the United States the concept of cafeteria as a place to stay and stay, as he had seen in Italy – he left the firm. He founded his own cafeteria and started opening stores. In 1987, his company absorbed Starbucks. They had then 17 stores. Three decades later, Starbucks has 28,000 coffee shops in 77 countries and is worth 78,000 million dollars. On the way, in addition, Schultz left the company for eight years and then return and reinvent it again, Steve Jobs style.

He has written several books in which he shares his experiences at Starbucks as a motivational talk. The last, which has been understood as a statement of principles to support his candidacy for president, is titled From the ground up. In it, he explains how he went hand in hand with his mother to see John F. Kennedy campaigning in 1960 in New York. "She did not have to take me that day. It was a burden. But I like to think that it was his way of teaching me his desire to believe in the unfulfilled promises of our country, and the possibilities that this gave his son. "

In the book she describes her opinions on more recent political episodes. In 2011, Republicans denied President Barack Obama the necessary spending expansion to keep the government functioning. Schultz seems to blame both parties equally for not being able to reach an agreement. "Our elected officials were putting the interests of their respective parties above the interests of the country, they were not doing their job," he writes. "Seeing such an irresponsible leadership from my couch, paralyzed, made me feel as sad and helpless as when I was a child and I heard my parents fight over money."

History shows that an independent candidacy tends to divide the vote from the side that is perceived as closest. Jill Stein, of the Green Party, took tens of thousands of leftist votes in the states that ended up deciding the presidency for Trump in 2016. The standard-bearer of consumer rights, Ralph Nader, weakened Al Gore's candidacy in 2000 The most frequently cited case is that of Ross Perot, the businessman who split the Republican vote in 1992. George HW Bush lost his re-election against Bill Clinton in a campaign in which he had everything in his favor. Schultz ignores all the precedents that indicate that his candidacy "of center" in all likelihood will help the re-election of Donald Trump.

At least two other Democratic billionaires have given up their plans to present themselves. The California investor Tom Steyer, the largest private donor of the Democratic Party, was playing with the idea of ​​presenting himself if the party was not progressive enough. He finally decided that he will not show up and that he will help with at least 40 million dollars for his goal of getting Trump's impeachment. The former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, former Republican who is now one of the largest Democratic donors, clarified this week that if he decides to present he will do so within the primaries of that party, not as an independent. Bloomberg, with a political profile very similar to that of Schultz, warned him without naming him not to present himself as independent: he has no chance of winning and the risk is very high.

Family speech

Schultz's speech, more educated than Trump's, sounds nevertheless disturbingly familiar. The political system is broken, he says. The parties can not do anything. It is presented "under a single flag, the American flag". He does it because he is worried about "people who are falling behind". Schultz considers himself a Democrat, but opposes the party's current agenda. It rejects the tax of 70% to the great fortunes that is making its way in the internal debate. Opposes that there is a public health system for all or that public money is used to subsidize higher education. The clash with the ideas that are brewing in the Democratic Party is inevitable, he says, that is why he only proposes to present himself as independent. "I've done it myself," he said this week. "I left the subsidized houses and took advantage of the opportunities of this country. I am living proof of the American dream. "

It is not clear how long it will take to see if Schultz is finally presented. What seems clear is that the threat will not disappear soon. The Washington Post told last Tuesday that Schultz has been preparing the ground for months. He has commissioned up to six surveys. The promotional tour of your book will serve to prove to the public throughout the country. This tour stopped last Thursday at a theater in Seattle, the city where Starbucks was born. Outside, dozens of protesters protested against Schultz for wanting to appear. "I would not go ahead in any way if I thought I could encourage people to re-elect Donald Trump," he defended himself.

"See the world not as it was, but as it could be. This became a way of life, "says Schultz. The decision he makes will be after months of distracting the debate from the other Democratic candidates. Among the protesters in Seattle, one carried a sign with a glass of Starbucks in it saying: "Big ego. Venti [la mayor medida de los vasos de Starbucks] mistake ".

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