My Fix: Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz. Matthias Clamer for Newsweek

MY FIX: I’ve recently persuaded more than 100 top executives to sign a two-part pledge. First, they’ll make no political donations until there’s a courageous, long-term, bipartisan debt and financial-security plan that addresses both entitlements and revenues; second, they’ll commit to continue making investments that accelerate job growth.

Why would I turn to activism? Because, like so many Americans, I’m outraged. Four billion dollars was spent during the 2008 election cycle, and an estimated $5.5 billion will be spent for 2012. Meanwhile, people are out of work, the economy continues to flounder, and nothing’s getting done in Washington. This is no longer a crisis of leadership. It’s an emergency. The lack of cooperation and irresponsibility among elected officials today, as they have put partisan agendas before the people’s agenda, is stunning and outrageous. Just think about what all that campaign money could do for the education system, for the social services that our politicians are poised to cut. Just think about how petty bickering in the halls of Congress has degraded the brand reputation of America around the world. This might be the leadership we have come to expect, but it’s not what we deserve.

That was the message of my letter—and it’s touched a nerve. I’ve heard from thousands of Americans I’ve never met, expressing support and gratitude. Like-minded business leaders have committed to doing what we can to ignite job creation, regardless of what’s taking place in Washington. At the very least, we can work to inspire confidence to counteract the damage our ostensible leaders are doing inside the Beltway. In other words, we need to unleash an upward spiral of confidence that reverses the cycle of fear and uncertainty currently plaguing our country.