Open Letter to Howard Schultz

Dear Howard (we've met before):

I congratulate you on your promise to spend more than $100 million on promoting democracy in America. You have a very good chance, indeed a near certainty, of having more impact on the future of the American experiment by doing this than by running for president. Indeed, your impact can be more important even than the historical significance of entire terms of some presidencies.

Here's how:

1. The first and by far biggest problem with American democracy is that the system does not engage nearly enough Americans in the process of choosing the president. Choosing the president by national popular vote would not only make every vote count equally but would also make every vote matter. As a result, both campaigns would seek every vote everywhere, and tens of millions more would participate in the election, while everyone would recognize that in the election itself all are joining in a historical feat of collective action. 

2. If at least 60% or more of Americans were involved in picking the president via a national vote, the winner by necessity would do what most Americans want done by the chief executive. The measures that then would become law and part of the culture would include: rapid action to address the catastrophe of climate change, regulations limiting access to automatic weapons, and massive upgrades in the infrastructure of transportation, water, sewage, and communications. Other topics are important but substantial majorities of Americans want these actions and no one elected by a majority of the national popular vote would fail to make progress on these three imperatives of collective action.

3. Your $100 million is more than enough to cause the national popular vote to be the way the president is chosen. Here are the steps:

a. Spend about $10 million on a national advertising campaign explaining that equality of voting power is good for the majority of the country. You know how to create brands as well or better than anyone in business history. Use your talents to advertise for democratic voting for president.

b. Spend $10 million to defeat the ballot measure that puts to the voters in Colorado in November 2020 the proposition, intentionally worded in a deceptive manner, that repeals Colorado's enactment of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Causing the voters of Colorado to rise up in opposition to the deep pocketed opponents of democracy would send a message to the whole country that the people want equal voting rights.

c. At a cost of about $10 to $15 million put on the ballot in Michigan for November 2020 that same Compact, so the voters in Michigan can pass it. The polling done by Making Every Vote Count shows that the measure will prevail by a strong margin if only someone funds the campaign. November 2020 will be a huge turn out year, and it would be tragic to miss the chance  to put this just and popular measure to the voters then. There is enough time yet to accomplish this big victory. Be relevant in 2020 in this way, please.

d. At a cost of about $5 million per state on average put the Compact on the ballot in 2022 in as many states as permit voter signatures to put proposed laws on the ballot. These include as many as two dozen states, so that's a spending package of about $50-60 million. If only four or five produce victories, then the Compact will have more than 300 electors bound to vote for the national popular vote winner. It will have been endorsed by millions of voters across the country. 

e. Don't pay for lawyers because Making Every Vote Count will deliver them pro bono. More than enough able lawyers want democracy and will vindicate the Compact and any related issues in the courts, no matter what specious arguments are raised by those who prefer minority rule that delivers outcomes most people do not want. 

4. I've left you about $10 million to fund a national green bank to finance the move from carbon to clean power—the next cause where the Nobel Prize goes to the businessperson who leads the way to generous green finance. 

Sincerely, Reed Hundt, CEO of Making Every Vote Count (and also Coalition for Green Capital)