Tapping into a growing frustration with the government and the ideologically driven views that shape public policy, Starbuck’s founder and CEO Howard Schultz recently launched a campaign promoting more citizenship and less partisanship.
“America right now is sick,” Schultz said during a teleconference on Sept. 6.
In what he called a “Conversation with America,” Schultz, a registered Democrat, teamed up with the nonprofit group No Labels to discuss the country’s political divisiveness, its ongoing deficit crisis, lingering high unemployment and the general loss of confidence among Americans.
No Labels and Schultz called on voters to unite with one outcome in mind — change. Schultz, who said he represents the once-attainable “American Dream,” offered no proposal, telling listeners that he is not a politician or an economist, just an active and concerned citizen.
“This is a moment in time when all Americans can become a solution to the problem,” he said.
According to a press release from No Labels, more than 100,000 voters from across the nation listened to the 1½-hour discussion.
“Our country is in a state of paralysis,” Schultz said, adding that Americans can no longer allow their leaders in Washington to lead the country on its current course.
Schultz and No Labels reiterated that Congress and President Barack Obama need to “drop their egos” and realize that this is not a time for political competition and combativeness, but a time for Washington to work together.
The message resonated with some local civic and political activists.
“We need a spirit of cooperation among the various levels of elected officials,” said Stan Hanson, an Ocala resident and retired Procter & Gamble executive who has served on a number of community and government advisory boards. “No one political party has all the correct answers to our country’s problems. As a matter of fact, many of the solutions will have to come from the non-political part of the country.”
Hanson said the “real” solution to America’s economic crisis would be to lower unemployment, both in Marion County and nationwide.
Voters are desperate for answers to rebooting the economy, he said, and it starts with unemployment. If more people have jobs, there will be more money to be invested into the economy.
Hanson said citizens need to begin putting more pressure on their elected leaders to start delivering results and not just political rhetoric.
“Members of Congress have let partisanship get in the way of doing what is right for Americans,” said former Gov. Buddy MacKay, who lives in Ocklawaha.
Both political parties are trying to use the state of our economy to their political advantage, he said.
It is time to start kicking out members of Congress who have been in the system too long, Hanson said. If these congressional leaders aren’t meeting the expectations of Americans within their first term, without excuses, they need to be kicked out.
“Our current political system is past its time for change,” he said. “This applies to all levels of the government. We need new blood.”
Since launching his movement, dubbed “Upward Spiral 2011,” Schultz has received the backing of more than 100 major corporate leaders, including AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong and J. Crew Group Chairman and CEO Millard Drexler.
Schultz said his message is not just for the powerful and wealthy. He hopes citizens at all income levels will create a “tidal wave” of response within Washington by demanding change.
Almost 25,000 people already have taken Schultz’s pledge and support is growing.
“You are an American,” Schultz told his audience. “You have a voice. This is a democracy that was built for you.” MacKay agrees with Schultz’s mission and believes it could impact the 2012 presidential election. “He is causing Americans to get focused,” he said.
MacKay agrees with Schultz’s mission and believes it could impact the 2012 presidential election.
“He is causing Americans to get focused,” he said.