This recent election more than anything before has caused a partisanization of something as mundane as shopping. Trump supporters are urged to buy from LL Bean, UnderArmour, and New Balance because their CEOs defended Trump. The same supporters are urged to boycott Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Uber because of the decisions of their CEOs or companies. And of course, Trump opponents are urged to do the opposite. Its even gotten to the point where Trump opponents are supposed to boycott Macys and Amazon, despite the fact that Macys cut ties with Trump over a year ago and Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, has frequently tussled with Trump and backed the court case against his executive orders. Has it really come to this, that we can no longer just go shopping and pick whatever brand suits are personal tastes and needs?
When I worked in northern New Hampshire during the last month of the election, I took pride in patronizing local establishments that I knew had completely different political views. Have we really gotten so polarized that people cannot shop at a store with competing views? There certainly is an argument to support your own and impoverish your enemies, but I am not sure that is the way to go about things. Trade and markets bring people together neutrally, so they may not like each other, but they still can do business, and ensure things dont get too heated. Indeed, in Israel, you will see Arab shopkeepers selling IDF tshirts next to PLO tshirts. For them, the shekels in their register at the nights tally is whats important.
Some of these boycotts and buycotts have gotten downright confusing. The Uber CEO was originally in an advisory council to the president. After the executive order issue blew up, Lyft went hard left. A Trump supporter friend said she was annoyed she now had to delete Lyft and switch to Uber. Then, a few days later, the Uber CEO said he was pulling out of the advisory council. Now, whats a Trump supporter to do? Go back to traditional taxis run by immigrants, often from the Middle East?
I once boycotted Amazon and Paypal for about a year when they pulled support for Wikileaks donations or something. I am not a fan of Campbells because of their social agenda pushing that I disagree with. But I later gave up because it was too hard to deal without Amazon, and occasionally, Paypal. (What does that tell us about the power these companies have?) Now, I prefer canned soup from other companies like Amys, which probably is more leftwing than Campbells, but for a different reason. I am not concerned about the partisan ID, but what a business does in the overall picture.
For this, I try to buy local and from small businesses. They tend to have better products, more customer concern, and will have more down to earth political views, and also be more amenable to changing their views. Also, they dont tend to sponsor the big media companies that brainwash and propagandize us. I dont shop at Starbucks because they are overpriced and the culture is obnoxious. I prefer a local cafe if I can find one. I will go to Starbucks if I need to and its the only option, but I try to avoid it. A local health food store might be a socialist Bernie supporter that grudgingly voted for Hillary, but I know they are more in touch with reality on the ground than a board of directors who are swayed by the masses.
Its important to focus on the good old fashioned product quality and customer service. For grand political reasons, shop local, even if they are different politics, they probably agree with you on a few important things. Those herbal remedy stockers probably arent fans of anti-liberty and anti-conservative big business either. We all have reasons to not like Walmart, whether its their poor predatory practices, or their support of the welfare state.
I am headed to the International Students for Liberty Conference this weekend in Washington DC, for the fifth year in a row. I will again document my experience there. Following that, I will also be attending the Conservative Political Action Conference for the first time, and will post about that as well. If you will be at either event or live in DC and want to meet up, let me know in the comments or message the Facebook page.
Additionally, along overdue website is coming soon and I am working on growing this organization to what it should be. I recently brought on two new Facebook contributors, Mason and Yaakov, and hope to welcome more contributors there, especially to this blog, and to the forthcoming website.