It has been reported that the idea of former CEO Howard Schultz running as a Democrat for the presidency is giving Starbucks investors, financial analysts, and company officials cause for concern.
It’s apparently not far-fetched. When he finally announced his long-anticipated departure from the company on June 26, Schultz told employees he would think “about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds.”
According to Politico, a person (whose identity was not disclosed by the site) close to the company’s current leaders said, “They don’t want him, as a retired founder, running for office. It’s a huge headache.”
Should it be difficult to believe that those who are responsible for the company bottom line would dread at least a two-year campaign by Schultz, which would link Starbucks with the Democratic Party and the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren more closely than ever?
The real question is, why would they have a problem?
The shareholders, board members and executives who have let Schultz handle the reins of the Seattle-based café chain for decades have always let him wear his liberal politics not only on his sleeve, but to weave it into the fabric of Starbucks itself.
As BuzzFeed reported about his resignation message to employees, even heading out the door he advocated for his liberal ideals in mentioning “affordable health care, education, refugees, parental leave, and pay equity.”
And as NLPC has reported extensively in the past the causes under the progressive agenda that Schultz, under the auspices of Starbucks, has pushed for. They included advocating for President Obama to lead the United States into the creation and funding of an international Global Climate Fund, one of several global warming policy initiatives the company promoted.
Starbucks, under Schultz, also weighed in against the North Carolina law (now semi-repealed) that required individuals using public restrooms and dressing facilities to do so according to their biological gender, not the one they “identify with” – the famous “transgender bathroom” law.
And in early 2017 Schultz announced the company would hire 10,000 refugees in its stores around the world, after President Trump’s executive order that temporarily prohibited visits from citizens of seven nations that showed a heightened terror threat to the United States. Schultz didn’t like that, and characterized the move as discriminatory.
“We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question,” he wrote to Starbucks employees at the time.
Most recently, following the incident in one of the company’s Philadelphia cafes in which two black customers were arrested for refusing to leave after occupying a table while waiting for a friend, Schultz shut down all the restaurants for a day of sensitivity training to help employees with their (alleged) unconscious racial and gender biases.
As NLPC’s Carl Horowitz wrote in May, “whether out of fear or conviction, officials now reflexively succumb to Leftist campaigns that target them for injustices against minority groups.” Except Schultz is more than happy to go along with such groups.
As for nominal opposition, in the face of the few people who have publicly objected to Schultz’s political agenda – as shareholder Tom Strobhar did in March 2013 after Starbucks formally endorsed Washington state’s gay marriage referendum – Schultz advised, “You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.”
As NLPC president Peter Flaherty wrote at the time in response to the foolish gesture, “I will take Schultz up on his invitation. OK, Howard, I’ve had my last cup of Starbucks coffee.” How many other coffee-drinking Americans who followed suit are unknown, but there are undoubtedly many.
And as for political alliances, Schultz has never been shy about his vocal and financial support for Democrat politicians, including the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (while also hinting at the possibility of his own potential White House run). Yet this never caused any Starbucks board members heartburn. Nor have his many criticisms of President Trump while he led the company.
So in sum, Schultz has outwardly led Starbucks in the progressive side of the culture wars, policy issues and party politics, without any consequences or pushback from anyone on his board, or from any significant shareholders of note.
If Starbucks management is now concerned about Schultz, they should depoliticize the company, welcome customers of all religious beliefs, and end the hostile work environment that Schultz created for baristas who don’t share his radical politics.