The recent sparring between Starbucks’s longtime CEO Howard Schultz and Senator Bernie Sanders reflects a conflict within the Democratic Party that is likely to get far more intense in the years ahead. Sanders accused Schultz, a self-described progressive who once considered a presidential run, of conducting “illegal union busting” at the coffee chain’s shops — something that the Starbucks CEO vehemently denied.
Schultz is finding out the hard way that liberal intentions are not enough to prevent his employees from seeking better wages and conditions. This dilemma mirrors that of his gentry progressive allies, who represent the Democrats’ increasingly affluent, well-educated base. They are now primary funders of the party and it is their agenda that has come to achieve dominance.
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Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.