Starbucks CEO Emails Customers, Recruiting Them To Stop Washington Gridlock

The CEO of Starbucks emailed customers on Friday asking them to join hands with him and other business leaders to urge Congress to stop the nihilist political gridlock and get on with fixing our country. Tuesday night at 6pm he will host an online townhall meeting. At the same time, he’s also set up an online petition where businesses can “pledge” to withhold campaign contributions as well as promise to start hiring employees. Is this the start of the “Coffee Party”?

Since politicians listen to either people who have money or those who amass in large numbers, combining those two forces could have interesting results. Or it could just be sound and fury signifying nothing except for the capturing of additional email addresses and Facebook “Likes”. We’ll have to see. But there’s some impressive names on the list, like the CEOs of Hasbro, Nasdaq and AOL. If all these companies really back it up with hiring workers, hey, that’s pretty awesome and who cares how it came about.

Here’s the letter:

September 2011

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

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 Shultz

chief executive officer, Starbucks Coffee Company

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