The internet appears to have claimed its first victim among the potential US presidential hopefuls: Howard Schultz has ruled out the possibility of running in 2020, apparently not least on account of the nature of online conversations.
The former Starbucks CEO’s presidential run was in an exploratory phase, and now it’s over.
Schultz, who had hoped to run as an independent candidate campaigning on a platform of reforming America’s two-party system, announced that he was dropping out on his website, blaming, among other things, the state of online discourse.
He found it dominated by “extreme voices (…) often with a vitriol that crowds out and discourages thoughtful discussions.”
Schultz believes that a large majority of Americans wants political reforms, but are “exhausted” and unwilling to engage in online conversations because those have apparently been taken over by a vocal and “toxic” minority.
“First, despite a variety of efforts to initiate conversations about political reform, extreme voices currently dominate the national dialogue, often with a vitriol that crowds out and discourages thoughtful discussions,” Schultz wrote. “And despite their hunger for reform, the exhausted majority has largely tuned out of political life online and in the news, leaving the extreme voices to define the debate.”
Schultz was subjected to consistent mockery from all corners of the internet, ever since announcing he was considering a presidential run.
But in the real world, the billionaire was accused by hecklers as being out to “help Trump get reelected” ostensibly by taking votes from Democrats as an independent candidate.
In his announcement on Friday, Schultz described Donald Trump as “a uniquely dangerous incumbent president” and cited fear of Trump’s reelection as the reason voters were not prepared to support him, or other independent candidates.
When Schultz first announced he was considering his participation in the 2020 election, Trump also had some choice words for him, assessing in a tweet that the former Starbucks CEO “doesn’t have the guts to run for president.”
Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
But in the post on his website today Schultz warned against far-left Democratic candidates who would, according to him, also serve the purpose of alienating moderate voters – and thus aid in Trump’s reelection bid.
Schultz also framed his consideration of running in the election as a desire to counter just such a candidate – adding that he was now unwilling to “risk” running against a moderate Democrat.
Considering Schultz’s status as apparently a constant source of scorn from all corners of the internet and a figure prone to gaffes it’s entirely unclear what potential Schultz would have had in the first place to take any relevant amount of votes from Democrats.