Two Problem Children Who Want To Be In Leadership Roles

By

Leonard Zwelling

This is not about Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump already is a leader, regrettably.

No, here I am talking about Ralph Northam, the current Governor of Virginia, for one and Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks who is contemplating a third-party run for the White House.

Mr. Northam has come under attack for having a racist photograph on his personal page of his medical school yearbook from 1984. My first thought was, where was the faculty advisor to the yearbook who should have caught this egregious act of insensitivity and bigotry and gotten rid of it? But second, what are you kidding? There is no way this is not a heinous and callous act warranting his immediate resignation from his current leadership role. He seems to be dragging his feet (or is he moonwalking a la Michael Jackson who Northam has claimed to mimic in blackface?) and has not resigned yet despite calls from every major Democrat to do so. Of course, the fact that the Lieutenant Governor is accused of sexual misconduct and the Attorney General (next in line) also claims to have worn blackface could wind up preserving all of their jobs lest the next in line, a conservative Republican, step in.

If Mr. Northam wishes to participate in a national conversation about why blackface and KKK costumes are offensive and were offensive in 1984, fine, but he needs to partake as a private citizen. Mr. Northam has lost any gravity that would allow him to lead any longer especially since it was African-Americans in Virginia who probably put him in office.

Governor, you made a foolish mistake as a younger man, but it and your recent pronouncements have revealed that you still may harbor such racists thoughts in your heart. You cannot lead any longer. Quit.

As for Mr. Schultz, the great worry about his candidacy is from the Democratic side fearing that he will be a spoiler and draw votes away from the Democratic nominee as Ross Perot damaged President Bush in 1992 or Ralph Nader harmed Al Gore in Florida in 2000. This is a real worry and if Mr. Schultz decides to run, he will have to make a really good case for why he is doing so outside the two lanes of the two-party system. If Mr. Schultz runs as an independent, he may well draw votes from the Democratic nominee or he may actually draw votes away from Mr. Trump. Nonetheless, it is difficult not to view Mr. Schultz as a potential spoiler and wonder why he, as a businessman, cannot find a place to run in the Democratic Party, but he feels differently.

Both Mr. Northam and Mr. Schultz are not thinking strategically.

Mr. Northam, in this day and age, has no credibility as a leader any longer. If he elects to battle to stay in the Governor’s job, he will be ineffective and a virtual lame duck. That’s not good for Virginia.

Mr. Schultz is also a bit of a self-centered adolescent who cannot find a place in the current political system and thus seems comfortable upending it as he may well do.

Like it or not, as long as we still have a winner-take-all electoral college system, third party candidates will be nothing but spoilers.

But everyone is an adult here. Each of these guys has to make up his own mind about what is best for him vs. what is best for his constituency. If they really thought about it, I think what they need to do is grow up. Do the right thing. Northam—quit. Schultz—don’t run as an independent. We simply cannot afford to have anything interfere with defeating Donald Trump at the polls. That’s the fitting end for this bleak chapter in American history.

Leonard Zwelling