And so it be­gins

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Editorial Page - S.E. Cupp S.E. Cupp is the host of Un­fil­tered on CNN.

Over the past cou­ple of weeks, it’s fair to say Democrats have seemed, well, overly caf­feinated. Howard Schultz, the bil­lion­aire for­mer CEO of Star­bucks, made the left apoplec­tic af­ter float­ing the idea that he is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing run­ning for pres­i­dent as an in­de­pen­dent.

Since em­bark­ing on his me­dia tour, Democrats from all cor­ners have come out to tor­pedo the po­lit­i­cal new­comer, and self-pro­claimed life­long Demo­crat.

With vi­sions of Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Jill Stein danc­ing ma­ni­a­cally in their heads no doubt, Dems likely fear that Schultz will take votes away from their party nom­i­nee in 2020. That’s usu­ally the way a third-party can­di­dacy goes: They don’t just ap­peal to first-time vot­ers, they cut into an­other party’s pie as well.

Just ask Hil­lary Clin­ton, if you can get her to stop seething. In her book What

Hap­pened, the 2016 Demo­cratic nom­i­nee said Stein “wouldn’t be worth men­tion­ing” if not for the im­por­tant votes she got in Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin. Clin­ton blamed a “small but sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of left-wing vot­ers” who “may well have thrown the elec­tion to Trump.”

The Democrats’ re­ac­tion to Schultz, though, doesn’t just re­veal their angst over what could have been in 2016 (and in­deed in 2000), or their para­noia over what should be in 2020. It’s il­lus­tra­tive of a larger prob­lem both par­ties are fac­ing: Vot­ers are sick of them, and they know it.

Faith in most Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tions is down, but in par­tic­u­lar, vot­ers don’t be­lieve our two-party sys­tem is work­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2018 Gallup poll, 57 per­cent of Amer­i­cans say our two par­ties do such a poor job that a third party is needed. Only 38 per­cent say the two par­ties do an ad­e­quate job. That’s al­most the mir­ror op­po­site of what the re­sults were in 2003, when Gallup first started polling the ques­tion and 56 per­cent said the two-party sys­tem was good enough and 40 per­cent dis­agreed.

It’s not sur­pris­ing, then, that we’re de­creas­ingly align­ing with the far left and right. In a Pew poll from 2018, Amer­i­cans on av­er­age put them­selves near the mid­point on an ide­o­log­i­cal scale. If 0 is “very lib­eral” and 10 is “very con­ser­va­tive,” most put them­selves at around a 5.

Nat­u­rally, the par­ties’ re­sponse to this dis­af­fec­tion is to quite lit­er­ally force Amer­i­can vot­ers into pick­ing one or the other—and typ­i­cally to drag their can­di­dates fur­ther to the ex­tremes dur­ing their pri­maries.

The Democrats’ all-out as­sault against Schultz, who has yet to of­fi­cially an­nounce, is al­ready un­der­way. In­flu­en­tial groups like Amer­i­can Bridge, Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee and Pri­or­i­ties USA have al­ready pub­licly threat­ened to make Schultz a tar­get and op­pose him with full force.

Demo­cratic can­di­dates like Ju­lian Cas­tro and El­iz­a­beth War­ren wasted no time in at­tack­ing Schultz, with War­ren tweet­ing, “What’s ‘ridicu­lous’ is bil­lion­aires who think they can buy the pres­i­dency to keep the sys­tem rigged for them­selves while op­por­tu­nity slips away for ev­ery­one else.”

And some in the lib­eral press are also work­ing over­time to smear the would-be can­di­date. In a bizarre hit piece, Ti­mothy Burke in The Daily Beast re­vealed that Star­bucks un­der Schultz, “which sold mu­sic along­side cof­fee from 1994 to 2015, had what could only be de­scribed as a flat and white se­lec­tion of tunes to of­fer.”

If Schultz runs, he won’t likely make the de­bate stage, and that’s by de­sign of both par­ties. Since 2000, the Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial De­bates has re­quired can­di­dates to ap­pear on enough state bal­lots to win and reg­is­ter at 15 per­cent in five na­tional polls.

All of this is meant to say to you, the voter, that only Democrats—or, on the other side, Repub­li­cans—have the an­swers to your prob­lems. And if some­one wants en­tree into the po­lit­i­cal arena, pick­ing among these two em­bat­tled, ill-fit­ting, un­der-per­form­ing par­ties is the price of ad­mis­sion. How is that good for us?

Schultz may not be a good can­di­date. He may prove to be wholly un­qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent. But the other two par­ties shouldn’t get to de­cide that—you should.

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