[1/27/19] – Businesspeople in Politics: Howard Schultz

President Trump is neither the first nor likely the last businessperson in politics. He and others are part of a relatively recent upswing in businesspeople participating in the American government. When Donald Trump began his presidential bid, he had already built a name, a brand, a Twitter following, and even released a book or two, such as The America We Deserve, published in 2000 when Trump was considering a presidential run. As a result of his business career and well-known name, he received a great deal of publicity, some of which revolved around why his career path or focus would make him a good politician—better than those more “traditional” politicians.

Here we see a trend. Businesspeople, now perhaps more than ever, are not only branching out into politics, but doing a great deal to sell the public on how this aspect of who they are is a boon to Americans and our government. They are “different,” i.e. more representative of the average American than politicians are. This week we examine former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his potential presidential bid.

 Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.


Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Businesspeople in Politics: Howard Schultz



U.S. University of Iowa professor Timothy Hagle talks about the benefits and conflicts of business people entering politics. Donald Trump’s rise to political fame in the 2016 presidential election season in the United States sparked a debate on the conflicts of interest versus the valuable connections that can, and have, been made when a business person gets involved in the power game of politics.


British experts comment on “What are the three characteristics of a good politician?”





Writing: How might running the government be similar to (or different) from running a business?

Debate: What do you think of people coming to politics from a business background? Do they have special skills suited to the role? Will they find more challenges than a law school graduate might?

Poll: Based solely on their previous profession, who do you think would make the best politician?

  • Businessperson
  • Lawyer
  • Rancher/Farmer
  • Educator
  • Doctor
  • Soldier/Military Background

Short Answer: What other profession(s) do you think might be particularly suited to translate into successful politicians?


Current Events Quiz

1. Despite his previous party being the Democrats, Schultz has stated he would more likely run as a(n) ______ candidate.

  • Green Party
  • Republican
  • Independent
  • Democratic


2. The two major political parties are concerned Schultz will ______.

  • change politics
  • not run
  • continue to benefit from Starbucks
  • jeopardize their agendas


3. Unlike some other news media, Nick Troiano and Charles Whelan of the Washington Post believe ______.

  • Schultz could win
  • Schultz will lose
  • Schultz should stay in the coffee business
  • Schultz would be too conservative


4. The D.C. publication Washington Monthly argues businesspeople don’t make good politicians partly because ______.

  • democracy requires different skills
  • lawyers are better
  • they don’t have the proper education
  • they’re too young


5. Our founding fathers and many politicians after them traditionally came from____ and ____ backgrounds?

  • law and sports
  • agriculture and law enforcement
  • law and agriculture
  • medical and religious


Featured image credit: Photo by Adam Bielawski

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