Starbucks is More Than Coffee

Joining the political circuit is none other than Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.  As part of his highly publicized blitz to end partisan gridlock in Washington D.C., Schultz will participate in a “Conversation with America” Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, September 6th.

The nationwide telephonic Town Hall is being organized by “No Labels,” a non-profit organization that describes itself as a citizen-led movement aimed at pressuring elected leaders to set aside partisan differences and focus on solving the nation’s problems.

In addition to Schultz, the Town Hall will include No Labels Co-Founders Mark McKinnon and John Avlon.  Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, will also participate.

Schultz has written an open letter that will run as a full-page advertisement in the Sunday and Tuesday New York Times, and in the Tuesday USA Today.  In the letter, Schultz repeats his call for a boycott of political donations until the country’s leaders approve 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.”

Several large businesses including AOL, J.C. Penney, Pepsi, Whole Foods Market, the Walt Disney Company, J Crew, Zipcar, and NASDAQ have already taken the pledge. 

Moreover, over 1,800 individuals and nearly 300 pledges from business owners promising to do “everything possible” to accelerate job creation have been made.

In a letter released to all Starbucks gift card holders today, Schultz stated:

Dear Starbucks Friend and Fellow Citizen:

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. 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.

We are better than this.

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.

In the weeks since then, 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.

Please join other concerned Americans and me on a national call-in conversation on Tuesday September 6th hosted by “No Labels,” a nonpartisan organization dedicated to fostering cooperative and more effective government. To learn more about the forum and the pledges, visit www.upwardspiral2011.org

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.

Yours is the voice that can help ignite the contagious upward spiral of confidence that our country desperately needs.

With great respect,

Howard Schultz

Chief Executive Officer, Starbucks Coffee Company

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions from business political action committees totaled $334 million in the 2009-2010 cycle, while individual donations from the business community were about $1 billion, split almost equally between the Republican and Democratic parties.

Since 1994, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has made campaign donations totaling $144,200, with $113,700 to Democratic candidates, $29,500 to special interest groups, and $1,000 to Republican candidates.

Interesting how this longtime supporter of the Democratic party is now attempting to become part of the process.

With 17,009 stores in 50 countries, including over 11,000 in the United States, over 1,000 in Canada, over 700 in the United Kingdom, and over 150 in Turkey, the Seattle, Washington, based Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world. 

Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6th, participants can RSVP at http://www.nolabels.org. The Town Hall meeting will be also streamed live.