The Weekend Politics Thread Has Had Too Much Caffeine

Lots happening in the world, as always, including some big announcements in American presidential politics. High-profile Democrats are lining up to challenge Trump in 2020, and many of them would be considered favorites to win. But let’s step back for a moment and try to appreciate the more subtle aromas of this brew: No-hope third party candidates like Howard Schultz.

Snoopy-With-Coffee

Schultz is the former CEO of Starbucks and a billionaire, which makes him a genius, right? Well, there must be some sort of three-dimensional chess going on, because from all appearances the Schultz campaign has been an unmitigated disaster.

I’ll try to summarize the overall message of his campaign so far: “Health care?! Never! We can’t afford to keep you alive! You’re hurting the GDP! It’s MINE! All the money in the world is MIIIIIINE!!!” Bafflingly for Schultz, this honest statement of what matters to America according to Schultz, which is Schultz’ money, has not been well-received. Every mention he gets in the press is accompanied by vicious mockery and references to the French Revolution, every Tweet he tweets is ratio-ed to hell, every pun-maker has discovered the joys of coffee.

But if he rides through the humiliation and makes it onto the ballot in every state, he will still get votes! Not a lot of them, but more than the zero he deserves. Perhaps those votes will come from business-minded never-Trump Republicans who would otherwise stay home, or perhaps he can pull a handful of votes away from Trump. Or perhaps he pulls those votes from Democrats, stealing away conservatives who feel obligated to vote against Trump, but now have a more comfortable alternative with no (D) next to their name. Maybe we should just assume the worst, because even if Schultz is run out of town, some other delusional fool, shameless grifter, or delusional grifter will be putting their name on the ballot in 2020. Guaranteed.

Consider Jill Stein, pictured above. She’s been busy for these last few years. She’s running that unlicensed, ramshackle amusement park right on the edge of the city limits. She’s calling your grandparents, trying to trick them out of their social security numbers. She’s driving around your town, stealing telephone lines to resell the copper. Of course, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with every score, but nothing has compared to the 2016 election – nothing! So many marks, so much cash, so many sides to play off each other. Campaign contributions, Russian bribes, donations for “recounts” – yes, thanks, she’ll have it all.

And what will the effect be on the election? How does the presence of knowingly or unknowingly fake candidates like Jill Stein or Howard Schultz or Ralph Nader or Person Promoting Transcendental Meditation affect the real outcome? As with all things political, the answer is fuzzy. For some third-party voters, the answer is “not at all.” For this group, it’s a protest vote, a deliberate rejection of the two-party system, or of their particular candidates. While partisans like myself would object to this reasoning, it’s at least a little easier to swallow than that of a true Howard Schultz fan. It’s also easier to swallow than Starbucks coffee. Boom! Roasted.

Please refrain from threatening Mayor McSquirrel or anyone else. Please don’t refrain from talking politics in this thread – that’s what it’s for!