Monday, July 1, 2019

Is centrism doomed? The cautionary tale of Howard Schultz — and the surprising promise of a populist center

By Roanoke, June 29, 2019

Howard Schultz stood in the kitchenette of a coach bus one afternoon in April, stirring coffee grounds in a French press. "This is Guatemalan," he said. "Sun-dried. It's so good. It has almost a blueberry flavor, but it's very natural. Very floral."

We were road-tripping to the Mexican border through Arizona's Sonoran Desert, while the former Starbucks CEO considered a run for president as a "centrist independent." I was writing a piece about centrism, and whether it was dead, and wanted to talk to its latest avatar. The very next day, Schultz would slip a disk in his back, leading to three surgeries in two months. His campaign would go dark for the summer; in mid-June, Schultz would email his supporters, promising that he'd be "back in touch after Labor Day." It now appears that Schultz is waiting to see how far left the Democrats move before figuring out whether his bid makes any practical sense - and whether American democracy still needs a centrist savior.
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