Howard Schultz Doesn’t Understand American HistoryRoundup
tags: political history, presidential history, 2020 Election, Howard Schultz
Based in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, Jamelle Bouie became a New York Times Opinion columnist in 2019. Before that he was the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. Mr. Bouie, who is a political analyst for CBS News, has been a staff writer at The Daily Beast and has held fellowships at The American Prospect and The Nation magazine. You can follow him on Twitter.
Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, cannot win the presidency as an independent candidate. But is there someone who could? Is there any chance a third-party candidate could contest the presidency and win?
The short answer is no. As long as the United States has an Electoral College and winner-take-all process for presidential elections, third-party and independent candidates will have a hard time finding any traction.
There have been times in American history, though, when third-party candidates have upended the political landscape, winning entire regions of the country, although never the presidency. But unlike Schultz, those candidates weren’t self-proclaimed “independents”railing against “divisiveness” from the center; they were polarizers who built support by cultivating personal followings and sharpening ideological, cultural and geographic divides.
Formed in early 1892 in an effort to make the farmer’s cooperative movement a national political crusade, the Populist Party hoped to, in the words of one leader, “march to the ballot box and take possession of the government, restore it to the principles of our fathers, and run it in the interest of the people.” That summer, delegates at a nominating convention in Omaha chose James Weaver, a former Union Army general, for president and a Confederate veteran, James Field, for vice president, a bisectional ticket meant to unify farmers in the North and South.
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