This article appeared in the January 29, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Why American voters might choose a coffee billionaire

Kathy Willens/AP
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz attends the kickoff event of a book promotion tour Jan. 28 in New York. Democrats lashed out at the billionaire businessman on Monday after he teased the prospect of an independent 2020 bid, a move Democrats fear would split their vote and all but ensure President Trump's reelection.

In a bitterly divided nation, the political path to the White House runs down the middle.

That’s what former Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz says as he contemplates running for president as an independent moderate. “The American people are exhausted. Their trust has been broken. And they are looking for a better choice,” he told “60 Minutes” Sunday.

A possible campaign slogan: “Make moderation great again.”

But Mr. Schultz would be running against a history of failed third-party campaigns. Conventional wisdom says a Schultz candidacy would simply peel off Democratic voters, helping President Trump win reelection.

What’s the unconventional wisdom?

American voters may be as fed up with Democrats and Republicans as they were in 1992. That’s when another independent businessman, Ross Perot, was ahead of Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush in the polls just five months before the election. For a variety of reasons, his campaign imploded.

A Schultz campaign could be a good barometer of what voters want in a leader. The current flock of Democratic candidates leans ever leftward (more on them in tomorrow’s edition), perhaps creating an opening for a centrist. And if you ask Americans whether a major third party is needed, 57 percent say yes.

Voters are ever alert for a path to progress. In 2016, they elected an unconventional real estate billionaire. The electorate may be so eager for relief from political head-butting that they give moderation a try in 2020.

Now to our five selected stories, including the price of uncertainty in the US economy, a video about how individual values can address our apparent prejudices, and a way to measure love for children in cities.

This article appeared in the January 29, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/29 edition
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