Thursday, January 31, 2019


ABC's Rick Klein writes:
Howard Schultz may or may not run for president, as he has told the world repeatedly this week.

But the former Starbucks CEO has already managed to do something that almost no one other than President Donald Trump has done in two years' time: drive a sustained debate on both policy and politics.
At the same time, the Wall Street Journal editorial page tells us this:
The way progressives are denouncing Howard Schultz, you’d think he is Donald Trump’s first cousin. The former Starbucks CEO said Sunday he might run for President as an independent in 2020, and Democrats have since been shrieking like teenagers at a horror movie. They seem to fear a policy debate, which is exactly why a Schultz candidacy could be good for the country, including Democrats.
So which is it? Is Schultz generating a policy debate or being bullied and censored so there won't be one? Both things can't be true. He's practically the only subject being discussed in the political press, so if Democrats are silencing him, they're not doing a very good job of it. (Odd how the victims of liberal fascism invariably spend hours in the public eye telling us at great length how awful it is that they're being silenced.)

Here's one problem with both of these arguments: Democrats have been trying to have multiple sustained debates about policy and politics. On the subject of politics, what is H.R. 1, the first bill introduced in the newly Democratic House, but an attempt to kickstart a debate about the nature of our politics? It addresses voting rights, gerrymandering, lobbying, money in the electoral process, and much more that's central to questions about how our government runs. Congressional Republicans don't like it, which is what you'd expect, but the mainstream media doesn't want to talk about it, which you'd think would not be the case if pundits are so concerned about the inability to have a sustained debate of our politics.

Beyond that, Democrats have been trying to have sustained policy debates on a host of subjects: health care, inequality, climate change, infrastructure, the cost of education -- the list goes on. The president and other Republicans won't engage Democrats on these subjects, but no one chastises the GOP for being afraid to debate. Democrats who manage to start discussions -- as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did when she called for an increase in the top marginal tax rate -- aren't praised.

But are Democrats afraid to have the specific discussion Schultz wants to have with them? Harrumphing pundits want you to think so. But if that's the case, why aren't Democrats attacking Mike Bloomberg, who plans to run in the party's primaries on precisely the same economic ideas Howard Schultz is expressing? Why aren't Democrats working feverishly to prevent John Hickenlooper, Terry McAuliffe, and even Joe Biden from entering the presidential race with their moderate, gradualist ideas?

If one didn't know better, one might conclude that Democrats are telling the truth when they say they're afraid of a split in the anti-Trump vote in November 2020, and aren't afraid at all of a debate on the issues. One might also conclude that the media doesn't consider it a real debate until a conservative or right-centrist weighs in. Under those circumstances, liberals and progressives can't start or sustain debates because nothing we say is acknowledged. It's only a debate when someone lectures us.

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