During the 2004 end-of-year holiday season, I talked a bit about politically motivated shopping: the Buy Blue effort. This idea, presented to me by progressive-issues writer Gene Messick, encouraged liberals and progressives to refrain from spending their hard-earned dollars with “red” merchants — American companies that donate heavily to right-wing candidates and causes.
What companies are these? BuyBlue.org has a regularly-updated list monitoring firms from the reddest to the bluest. Choose the Blue offers another comprehensive listing. Among BuyBlue’s reddest of the red: Best Buy; Dollar General; Fruit of the Loom; Kohl’s; Nordstrom; PETsMART; Outback Steakhouse; McDonald’s; Geico; Hershey Foods; Urban Outfitters; Wendy’s; Circuit City; Dell; J. C. Penney; Kroger supermarkets; OfficeMax/Boise; Hallmark Cards; EarthLink; and Molson Coors Brewing Company.
Contrast that list with this sampling of blue companies, which donate heavily to liberal organizations and politicians: Barnes & Noble; Foot Locker; Google; Powell’s Books; Starbucks Corporation; Apple Computer; Costco; Bed, Bath & Beyond; L.L. Bean; Crate and Barrel; the Gap; JetBlue Airways; and Netflix.
Just in time for last-minute Valentine’s Day shopping — or for general purchasing — Messick seeks to remind us of the importance of buying blue:
Did you notice anything odd about the states where GwB went barnstorming to promote privatization of Social Security: Nebraska, North Dakota, Michigan, Florida? Each state has a Democratic Senator up for re-election in 2006. GwB sent this message: either vote for my plan to wreck SS, or we’ll vaporize you.
While pretending to be “saving” Social Security, GwB used YOUR tax dollars to launch his political threats. This is the kind of corrupt politics GwB believes in.
So what can you, Mr and Ms TrueBlue Citizen, do to combat such blatant Red abuse of power? You can
begin to fight back, in simple, ordinary, daily ways. For starters, you can change your pattern of spending.
If each of us 50 million TrueBlue voters shift $100 per month of personal spending from Reds to Blues, we’ll cause the greatest transfer of wealth the world has ever known. Oh really, you say? Well, do the math:
50 million x $100 = $5 Billion. Per month. Times 20 months ’til the 2006 elections = $100 Billion. You think that won’t make a difference?
If you put this into savings instead of spending, it’ll slow down GwB’s economy and make a difference. If you use this to pay off credit card debt, it’ll reduce banker’s profits, making less to contribute to Reds. If you spend this with local producers and merchants instead of at Walmart, it’ll make a big difference in your hometown’s economy. Got a birthday gift to shop for? Look up a local artist or craftsperson!
If you buy American-made instead of increasing our debt to China, Japan, etc., it’ll make a huge difference. And if you’ll send $20 a month to support a TrueBlue
Senator or Representative, we can take back BOTH Houses of Congress. GwB started his campaign, so it’s not too early for us to begin. Election control is in the purse strings. And the purse strings are in your hands.
Conserving and spending less matters a lot. But simply re-directing where and how you spend matters even more. It’s like going on a diet. You start reading labels and counting calories, and paying attention to where the healthy Blue purchases are.
In this case, it’s the political calories we’re going for: the healthy, sustainable calories. TrueBlue Americans
are putting our Nation on a strict diet: We must lose a hefty amount of ugly Red blubber before the 2006 election. This means a shift of only six Senators and 18 House members. That’s our goal for good health.
How to do it? It’s just like any other diet. Set a goal. Retrain your brain. Cut back. Exchange bad habits for good ones. And celebrate with your Blue friends while doing it! Diminish Reds by promoting Blues.
We have 20 months to turn a bloated, fat, stupid, boastful Red America into a slim, trim, beautiful TrueBlue America once again. You remember how good we looked when we were healthier, younger, smarter and Bluer? Well, it’s time to get smart again. Think smart. Buy smart. Live smart.
When next you go shopping, make a list. And stick to it. No impulse buying!
Look at your list and ask these 5 questions:
- Do I really need this?
- Can I use something less expensive?
- Is it made in China? Or in America?
- Can I buy closer to home?
- from a local merchant?
- made by a local producer?
- who am I supporting with my $$?
- Is this a Red, or a Blue merchant?
See how simple it is? Just imagine! 50 million TrueBlue shoppers
taking back their America . . .
Now that’s a Mission worth accomplishing!
And it can be easier than you think: Need to go to a pharmacy? Try blue CVS rather than red Rite-Aid. Get your DVDs from blue NetFlix rather than red Blockbuster. Use a blue Apple rather than a red Dell. Find low prices at blue Costco rather than at red Wal-Mart or General Dollar. If your area doesn’t have a local independent bookstore (the best bet of all), skip red Amazon-dot-crap and instead shop Powell’s Books — or if you must go the chain route, assuage your guilt with the knowledge that Bunns & Noodle, er, Barnes & Noble donates its money exclusively to blue concerns.
The caveat: Just because a company is blue doesn’t mean it automatically merits your patronage. Starbucks Coffee, for example, is bluer than blue in terms of its corporate giving, but its offerings are not always environmentally or economically responsible. Fair-trade coffee supports small, family-run farms; it promotes environmental sustainability and is bought directly from poor coffee farmers, ensuring them a living wage for their work. Starbucks says it is doing what it can to improve its performance regarding coffee growers and sourcing fair-trade beans, however, merchants such as Thanksgiving and Equal Exchange, two of the largest fair-trade-certified coffee suppliers in the US, presently offer more fair-trade items than necessary for TransFair certification. Buy your coffee where you will — I don’t want to slam Starbucks unfairly; the firm is doing better — but do make knowledge-backed choices.
The bottom line: Do your homework. Know what you are buying and from whom you are buying it. That’s the best way to make responsible economic, ecological, and political decisions. And one of the best moves for progressives, for their good and for the sake of the nation and the world, is to buy blue.