By Irene F. Starkehaus -
The conundrum that conservatives face when putting aside politics in the pursuit of capitalism is that capitalism no longer puts aside its politics in pursuit of you and me. Conservatives now find ourselves at a distinct political disadvantage because we are using a 1980s model of consumerism which believes that an iced cappuccino is a cool, tasty treat on a warm summer's day rather than the method by which progressivism expands to reduce your children's ability to indulge in the same cool, tasty treat in the decades to come.
As much as I personally would like Ronald Reagan's methodology for growing the economic pie (so that more people can live in freedom) to last forever, the era is…if not precisely over, then at least on extended hiatus as crony capitalists throw in with Leftists and initiate their self-destruct sequence in pursuit of materialism as it is actually defined.
There are a lot of arguments against politicizing one's purchasing power – not the smallest of which is that it's kind of narcissistic and perhaps mildly fascist - although why the individual right to not buy a product for whatever reason might be construed as fascist is well beyond my understanding. I must have skipped that day in Econ 101 because I see this form of choice as the epitome of free speech. See more about this in an article entitled: Being an Overly Political Jagweed? There's an App for That! By Troy Senik on Ricochet. (Senik is a former speech writer for George W. Bush and a current senior editor for Ricochet.)
The basic argument against politically-motivated spending behaviors is that one should make purchases based on quality and affordability benchmarking rather than on abstract corporate dogmas regarding global warming. We are instructed by Senik (as a for instance) that boycotting a product for political reasons is:
"…about ensuring that even the most pedestrian aspects of daily life are yet another opportunity for you to billboard your manicured sense of morality. It's about offering you a dozen opportunities a day to deliver sermonettes on whatever issue you became passionate about immediately after you heard it discussed on The View. It's about giving a patina of respectability to supercilious scolds and buzzkills."
Far be it from me to argue with anyone who can use the words "patina," "supercilious" and "buzzkills" and all in the same sentence, but my BS meter starts registering activity whenever I'm called insipid for exercising my First Amendment rights.
Maybe you don't want to live your life worrying about the political impact of every penny you spend and you know what? I understand that perspective. It's a hard game to play without being a hypocrite because eventually you're going to want something that's offered by a company that stands as an antithetical obstacle to everything you believe in, and you'll decide that in this one case, you're going to break down and buy what you want…and then you'll feel the sting of conscience which is horrible.
It's true enough that you can never be accused of being a hypocrite if you don't stand for anything, but to call out fellow conservatives because an economic boycott somehow smacks of narcissistic navel gazing is disingenuous.
For those who are quick to level criticism on the conservatives who would take this active approach to political expression, consider this. If you could satisfy your household energy needs from companies that use only American fuel reserves and completely bypass Middle Eastern, Eastern European and South American sources, would you?
It's an easy choice that a lot of you would make willingly. And you would do so because some people in other areas of the world openly seek the destruction or fundamental transformation of our culture and way of life. Now, because of diversification, Big Oil companies can't really offer the option of American-only energy sources to consumers so the point is moot, but if you were to learn that a particular company was funneling money to…let's say ISIS… to support the cause of Islamic extremism, would you be inclined to purchase from them, or would you look for a company that was more in line with your own value system?
Even if it meant spending a little more at the pump?
Ah…in this case, we easily see that purchasing fuel from those who would support ISIS is penny wise and dollar foolish because ISIS is a barbaric, savage organization that seeks the violent destruction of American interests, and they make no bones about it.
There are companies, however, that will gladly take your money and then use it to quietly undermine your interests, and that's where the lines of conventional purchasing behavior get blurred a little. It's not overt, so drawing the line is politically challenging.
I would argue that those companies which financially support environmental extremists, abortion rights, Common Core, gun control, entitlements and gay marriage are doing just as much damage to American interests as ISIS is. Perhaps ISIS has made a formal declaration of war against you and acts openly in its actions against you, but progressives are killing America too… just more quietly.
Either way, dead is still dead. It doesn't matter if America is beheaded with one swift blow or slowly drained of its lifeblood over a handful of decades, the effect remains the same.
Of course, some companies have a committed progressive agenda, and I doubt very much that an economic boycott would matter to them one way or another. Per 2nd Vote which is an online resource for conservatives that would like to understand the political leanings of the companies with which they do business, Starbucks – as an example – scores one out of a possible five on the liberal to conservative scale and that means that they lean about as far left as they can be without tipping over.
We can't be emotionally bogged down by companies that won't change even in the face of economic pressure. We can, however, choose to buy from neutral or conservative competitors for our own long term cultural health. To take my example to its conclusion, it would be one thing if Starbucks was the only cup of coffee in town. Or the cheapest. Or the only one that is flavorful. In my opinion, it's the mystique, the status that keeps people coming back for more. The product has little to do with it, so why hand over seven bucks for a cup-a-joe so that part of the profits will be funneled to Planned Parenthood and other extremist organizations when there's tasty (and cheaper) alternatives a block away?
Then there are the companies that give to leftist organizations because they are biding time hoping that this or that fad will pass so that they can get back to the business of providing products and services to consumers.
Now, individuals like Troy Senik will quip about the narcissism of economic activism, but the reason that certain companies bow to the Left's political whims is because the Left vocally advocates for the 18% of Americans who identify themselves as liberal. Companies rely on the 40% of Americans who self-identify as conservative to keep their mouths shut so that they don't have to choose one consumer over another. But what we find when conservatives do speak up on behalf of the companies that better reflect their own political leanings is that conservative buying power is colossal in comparison to the Left's and that should send shock waves through the business and political communities. Lord help them when the Right finally puts its economic foot down and refuses to budge.
The key here is that you as an individual do not have millions of spare dollars to use for political contributions that will drive legislation in favor of your personal political agenda. You, however, may have $40 dollars to spend on your family at a fast food restaurant. For the record, I support the right of corporations to exercise free speech, but that fast food restaurant will then take the money that you spend and put it together with the millions of other dollars that were spent at their establishments to make a political statement that may not be in your family's best interest. Will their statement be in favor of school choice which nurtures parental rights or will it be in favor of Common Core which will inhibit parental rights and a local school district's ability to decide what's best for its children?
See? You thought the biggest decision you were making was whether you want fries with that burger…which in and of itself is a political statement these days, I guess. In spite of criticism from the head-in-the-sand moderates, you are already voting with your paycheck. You're just doing it like those liberals who get bussed to their polling place on Election Day to vote a straight D ticket because that's what their union bosses told them to do.
Don't be that guy. Get educated and find out what happens to your money when it becomes their money.