It’s the holiday season, and Starbucks returns to the center of controversy

I know I’ve kept far quieter about the upcoming election than I should have. To be honest, I found it incredibly difficult to actually put the disgust I have felt about parts of this campaign into words. I am breaking my usual pattern of not posting on the weekends (as you may have noticed, this going up on a Saturday) to try and catch up on a few topics. I’m going to try to keep this on the main topic as expressed by the title, though by necessity I will wind up discussing a few things about the election as a result.

Upworthy recently reported on the latest Starbucks holiday cup, and unfortunately, the controversy that was unbelievably quick to come in return. This is not the first time we’ve been down this road, as regular readers of this blog should be aware.

The only reason I will likely not wind up with one of these cups is that I rarely if ever order hot drinks, coffee or otherwise, at Starbucks. (My usual is iced tea, and I’ve been known to order it well into the winter, or at least what passes for winter in Houston.) This cup is definitely a keeper, though, should I partake of my occasional wintertime hot chocolate.

This quote from the article sums it up nicely:

No election will solve those problems. No election can solve those problems. Those issues — what it means to coexist with people who hold vastly different beliefs than our own — are on us to solve in our everyday lives and in how we choose to treat others. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue; this is a human issue.

This has been, if not the most polarizing election, one of the three most polarizing elections I have lived through. The 2004 and 2008 elections are definitely contenders for most polarizing, and I feel the trend has been towards more polarization and division as the years have worn on. This is a real shame, and to be honest quite unexpected in this cycle (then again, Donald Trump actually being nominated wasn’t something I had expected to happen either; more on that in a later post).

That the backlash comes in the form of, for example, someone deriding the cups as “political brainwashing” is a pretty sad commentary on where we are as a society and a country. I’m proud to be an American, but I’m embarrassed to see people writing things like that and at the same time holding themselves out as Americans, and in some cases patriotic Americans at that.

I don’t think the design is about politics, and certainly not about Starbucks openly positioning itself as a Democrat- or liberal-leaning company. I take the message at face value: that there is more that unites us than that divides us. Come November 9, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to wake up with a president they didn’t want. And yes, in a way that will include me; I really wanted Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, and I was severely disappointed when he decided to concede the nomination to Hillary Clinton. A lot of Republicans certainly didn’t get the candidate they really wanted, either.

I get that a lot of people were disappointed by Barack Obama’s presidency. President Obama got a lot accomplished, though there were a few things that in my opinion he screwed up. (I do plan to post a retrospective on his presidency either near the end of the year or in early 2017; which it is depends on whether I carry on with some plans I had for this blog in the month of January.)

But slamming Starbucks for choosing the cup design they did? One that’s supposed to celebrate unity? That’s outrageous, and I would even call it borderline un-American. Again, because of the cup design and the fact that people are slamming Starbucks over it, I’m making my next visit to Starbucks sooner rather than later. (Though the fact I’m at 120 stars and thus only five away from earning my next free beverage certainly doesn’t hurt.)

I’m not even going to think about opening the whole “war on Christmas” can of worms just yet. It’s still a bit too early, and those worms go better with Thanksgiving turkey anyway.

[Update 2016-11-29: As referenced in a more recent post, this cup design is not for the winter holiday season, but more timed for the election season.]

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