Roy Exum: No More Mother’s Milk

I’m a guy who has long had my fill of partisan bickering between politicians so I was thrilled when a letter just written by the CEO of the Starbucks coffee empire called for business leaders – and all the rest of us – to make no more political contributions until our elected leaders learn how to behave and give us results.

In a letter that appeared in some major newspapers earlier this week, Howard Schultz began, “I love our country. And I am a beneficiary of the promise of America. But today, I am very concerned that at times I do not recognize the America that I love.

“Like so many of you, I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failure of leadership in Washington,” the coffee CEO wrote. “And also like you, I am frustrated by our political leaders’ steadfast refusal to recognize that, for every day they perpetuate partisan conflict and put ideology over country, America and Americans suffer from the combined effects of paralysis and uncertainty. Americans can’t find jobs. Small businesses can’t get credit. And the fracturing of consumer confidence continues.”

Now let me interject right here that while I don’t yet have a taste for Starbucks’ coffee, I absolutely adore what Schultz is about. Thank God he’s not willing to stand around like our Capital Hill pretenders. Instead, here’s a guy who is hooked up with a non-partisan political movement called “No Labels.”

Get this: No Republicans, no Democrats, no liberals, no conservatives, no Tea Party, no NAACP, no labor unions, but instead a group whose main intent is to get Washington to quit haggling, work together, and move forward.

He writes, “Three weeks ago, I asked fellow business leaders to join me in urging the President and the Congress to put an end to partisan gridlock and, in its place, to set in motion an upward spiral of confidence. More than 100 business leaders representing American companies – large and small – joined me in signing a two-part pledge:

“First, to withhold political campaign contributions until a transparent, comprehensive, bipartisan debt-and-deficit package is reached that honestly, and fairly, sets America on a path to long-term financial health and security. Second, to do all we can to break the cycle of economic uncertainty that grips our country by committing to accelerate investment in jobs and hiring.”

My heavens, who among us doesn’t want and deserve that? On Friday an article appeared in USA Today that said over 19,000 people have pledged online to cease political contributions. Will it work? No one knows but No Labels co-founder Luisa Borders says she thinks it may have an impact.

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics. Without money, you have a difficult time running anybody’s campaign,” she said. “If you pull that (money) lever to a screeching halt, you will get everybody’s attention.”

Schultz says that in the first weeks after he originally begged the President and Congress to end the embarrassing gridlock, “I have been overwhelmed by the heartfelt stories of Americans from across the country, sharing their anguish over losing hope in the strongest and most galvanizing force of all – the American Dream. Some feel they have no voice. Others feel they no longer matter. And many feel they have been left behind. We cannot let this stand.”

Last Tuesday night over 100,000 people listened to a teleconference where Schultz and “No Labels” organizers explained their frustration and listened to what might be some solutions towards “fostering cooperative and more effective government. To learn more about the forum and the pledges, visit www.upwardspiral2011.org.”

In his letter Schultz said, “America is at a fragile and critical moment in its history. We must restore hope in the American Dream. We must celebrate all that America stands for around the world. And while our Founding Fathers recognized the constructive value of political debate, we must send the message to today’s elected officials in a civil, respectful voice they hear and understand, that the time to put citizenship ahead of partisanship is now.”

Well, the guy’s got me sold. The newspaper article said that of the 100 business leaders Schultz asked to help him, guys like the CEO of AOL.com and the head at JCPenny, are on board while Jim Morris of Lecere Corp says it’s an easy call for him. He hasn’t made political contributions in years. “I don’t understand why people make large contributions, anyway. I haven’t ever played in that arena.”

Ditto, brother, but let’s hope the Starbucks guy and “No Labels” crowd can somehow restore order to a badly-shaken House and to a Senate that’s clearly lost its course. To echo Howard Schultz, “We cannot let this stand.”

See the article here.

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