Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calls for bipartisan boycott

Could the CEO of Starbucks have just injected a bit of caffeine into the traditional two-party system, caffeine which could give its members the jitters? That just might have happened as a result of his call to fellow business leaders to cease political contributions to Washington politicians who’ve put party above people.

     “I am asking that all of us forgo political contributions until the Congress and the president return to Washington and deliver a fiscally disciplined long-term debt and deficit plan to the American people,” Howard Schultz said in an email to fellow business leaders that was obtained and reported on by Politico.

Frustrated by politicians who take their electorate for granted, the head honcho of the worldwide coffee empire has expressed disappointment in the nation’s direction. In an interview with New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, Schultz hit a key note that could resonate with a number of disgruntled, traditional party voters outside his circle of influential business partners.

     “The fundamental problem is that the lens through which Congress approaches issues is reelection. The lifeblood of their reelection campaigns is political contributions[…]. Whether big donors or small ones, Americans should stop giving and see if it galvanizes Washington to act,” he told the Times.

Having made political donations himself, mostly to Democrats and even to President Obama, his recent comments reflect a healthy skepticism concerning the broken political system. Schultz blasted both parties for the way that they’ve handled the debt negotiations, criticizing politicians for not putting themselves in the shoes of the American people. In the New York Times interview, it’s noted that his recent statements about Washington politicians grew from a response he received from an internal company email dated August 8. 

     “While very proud of the steps we continue to take as a company and the record results we turned in for the quarter, I found myself growing more and more frustrated at the lack of cooperation and irresponsibility among elected officials as they have put partisan agendas before the people’s agenda. This is not the leadership we have come to expect, nor deserve,” he wrote at one point in that very email.

Despite hard economic times, Schultz ultimately noted in his company email the importance of not allowing the government’s current state of affairs to hinder the mission of Starbucks to press onward in striving for high standards.

     “But we cannot allow political partisanship and government gridlock to overshadow what is most important for our own future success. Great global companies lead with innovation, entrepreneurship and courage, and it’s imperative that our company and others continue to step up in this regard during difficult times.”

This recent indictment by the CEO of Starbucks is quite a compelling one, as it demonstrates that frustration with the two-party system isn’t confined to one set of voters. Rather, it’s likely an indication that self-interested political bickering is having a direct effect on the decisions that business leaders are making in the current climate. Schultz’s clarion call to boycott Washington is a novel idea. If more voters heeded it, perhaps it could have a profound influence in disrupting business as usual in DC.