Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, took out a full page ad in last Sunday’s New York Times to make a plea for action on the economy and for an end to partisan bickering. Using his cultural capital as the head of one of America’s most popular companies, he is organizing a nationwide town hall meeting Tuesday night. The event, hosted by the non-partisan group No Labels, was billed by Schultz as an opportunity for concerned citizens to speak out and persuade politicians in Washington to abandon hyper-partisan tactics and sincerely work together for the good of the country. Schultz has published several ads recently in newspapers voicing his dismay at the lack of progress being made in Congress and inviting Americans across the country to call into the meeting via teleconference. This comes on the heels of Schultz’s push last month to get other CEOs to hold back contributions to politicians until lawmakers agree on a compromise which effectively addresses the economic problems the country faces. With the backing of AOL’s Tim Armstrong, J Crew’s Millard Dextrer, JC Penney’s Myron Ullman and over 100 other businesses, it appears that Schultz’s philosophy and movement resonate not just with the average voter, but with economic leaders as well. What do you think of the Schultz plan for overcoming partisanship? Is it bold to ask wealthy business leaders to hold back political contributions or is it an unrealistic request doomed to failure? Do you think this kind of movement can change the political climate? Is this grass roots or astro turf?
John Avlon, co-founder of No Labels; senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America