The better half of this country woke up November 3 suffering a political hangover that was roughly (our labs have determined after extensive testing) the equivalent of mixing 1 case of Hamm’s Premium, 1 liter Cossack Vodka, and 2 packs of Marlboro menthols. Now, having picked itself up and brushed the little pieces of sick out of its teeth, that groggy-eyed collective is looking for a way to knock out the cobwebs and re-enter the fight.
BuyBlue.org offers an interesting tactic. The organization, founded in the wake of the election, publishes on its website “information on who gave what to what political party this last election cycle.” In other words, how much money businesses across different industries donated to political parties in the last election, and what percentage of their total political contributions went to which party.
“You may have voted blue, but were you aware that every day you unknowingly help dump millions of dollars into the conservative corporate warchest?” BuyBlue.org asks its website’s visitors. “Simply by buying products and services from companies which heavily donate to conservatives, we have been defeating our own interests as liberals and progressives on a daily basis.”
The information on the BuyBlue.org website, compiled mostly from data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and Federal Election Commission records, provides some surprises.
If you bought Christmas cards from Hallmark this holiday season, you supported a company that gave 92% of its political contributions to Republicans. No surprise that Wal-Mart donated 80% of its $2 million+ to Republicans, but it might be a shock that 61% of Amazon’s political contribution dollars also went to Republicans.
In a political culture where private money holds so much pull, BuyBlue.org offers the public an opportunity to influence these contributors. “There will be Blue alternatives to offending companies, and by making a decision to buy from these businesses, you are helping stimulate the growth of Blue-friendly economics. We are aiming for complete corporate responsibility,” says the organization.
“BuyBlue.org uses our power as consumers to vote with our wallets, supporting businesses that abide by sustainability, workers’ rights, environmental standards, and corporate transparency,” says the organization’s mission statement. “At the same time, BuyBlue.org organizes vast boycotts against businesses that violate these essential values of a sustainable, fair and profitable society through their policies and the politicians they support.”
BuyBlue.org’s long-term goal, however, is to help reduce corporate money from politics, not to promote a nationwide boycott. “We believe that most politicians no longer serve the public’s interest and instead pander to influential corporations and special interests,” says BuyBlue. “We believe that the best way to encourage our political leaders and corporations to enforce progressive ideals is to vote for those ideals the only way those groups understand; with our collective buying power.
“Our collective buying power will make a difference, and we will be heard.”
Copyright 2005, Matt McCarthy
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