05 December 2004

Friends Don't Let Friends Sleep With Republicans.

Liz Langley and I are very upset that our Lysistrata Strategy didn't work out, but there's something else you can do to vent your frustration with the Stupefaction of America: boycott Red and buy Blue.

The nice folks at buyblue.org have it right: the second most important thing you can do beyond voting blue is buying blue. In fact, in the long haul it's actually more effective: 56.8 million people can't win a national election, but they sure can send a bunch of these overfed traitors to the poorhouse, and that's almost as fun -- it might even (slightly) delay the rest of the country's arrival at the same destination.

I'm paring down and simplifying their wonderful list to just the worst offenders. This is an area where we can really make a huge difference if we put a modest effort into it. Indeed, only three steps are required:

1. Don't spend money at the Red Stores, use the Blue Stores instead.
2. Write the owners of the Red Stores and explain to them exactly why you're taking your business elsewhere. A cc to any local media outlets wouldn't hurt either.
3. Stick to it. If even 10% of us Blue voters participate, Wall Street will be in a tailspin. Six million consumers shifting their buying patterns to companies that promote liberal policies (both within their own businesses and by advocating elsewhere)? It might even make some Faux "News"casters' heads explode. Isn't that worth the effort alone?

Let's start with General Retail. The new Sears/Kmart merger creates one giant Red store: avoid them. Bath & Body Works (the whole Limited Brand, in fact) is in fact unclean. Circuit City is dirty too, and of course Walmart is the worst offender. Blue companies in this arena include Costco, both major book chains (Borders and B&N), Bed Bath & Beyond, Electronics Boutique and Sharper Image.

For Clothing, avoid Nike/Cintas, Guess and Dollar General. Instead, buy from Nordstroms, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, any Estee Lauder brand, and J Crew. We just found out Victoria's Secret: she's a filthy Republican whore. No more money for her.

What about Beer and Spirits? This one's pretty easy: the worst offender is (duh) Coors. You may want to add Anhauser Busch (just for the name as much as their donation record) and Southern Comfort/Jack Daniels (another "duh") to the list, but they're actually not all Red, just CYA IMHO. Instead, switch to Bailey's, J&B brands (including Guinness!), and Gallo.

Restaurants -- this is the tough one, especially if you're a gourmand like me. I'm going to pretend it's a four-year fad diet. :)

Avoid: Outback, Darden (Red Lobster, Olive Garden et al), Tricon (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Brinker (Chili's, Macaroni Grill). Support Hard Rock, Arby's and Sonic.

When Travelling, stay out of the Holiday Inn and Marriott chains (Hilton is also on the buyblue list, but they were actually only slightly more Red than Blue in their donations -- again, I think they were more hedging their bets than making a political statement). Good hotels include Hyatts and Diamond Resorts.

When flying, you'll want to stay off Continental, American and Southwest (pity, that one), and get on Jet Blue, Alaska Air/Hawaiian Airlines and Net Jet where possible.

Buying Gas? Don't waste your money on BP, use Shell instead (they are the only oil company donating to the Democrats!).

What about Groceries? Well basically, if you shop at a major chain (other than Price Club/Costco), you're supporting Republicans. Support indie groceries where possible, and Whole Foods/Trader Joes and Costco where it's not possible. Russell Stover Chocolates are bad for you, but Starbucks is (ugh) good for you, philosophically speaking.

Kind of related to Groceries, but much easier to make a change, is the category of Greeting Cards. Avoid Hallmark, buy anything else. Simple, isn't it?

Lastly for Entertainment, support Netflix. Avoid Blockbuster. But then, if you vote Blue, you already kinda knew that didn't you?

A few other bastards to avoid, courtesy of Choose The Blue:
Don't buy from Dell, don't rent from Colortyme or Rent-A-Center, avoid Office Max and Staples, don't ship with DHL (or UPS if you can avoid it).

Now of course, sometimes you can't avoid spending money with anti-democracy companies. For example, I have a monthly meeting that meets at Cracker Barrel, who cater to the lumpy-bumpkin market and thus are solidly Republican in their supporting. I will try to get my group to change to another restaurant less offensive to me, but otherwise I'll just reduce my business with them as much as possible apart from the meeting (and let them know why). The point is not to be perfect, but to be vigilant and to try and shift your money wherever possible.

Don't worry about making a mistake now and then -- try hardest with the areas where you spend the most money (car insurance, gas, groceries, etc) and be sure to write letters to the companies you're shifting away from. If enough of us do this, we can really hit them where it hurts.

The election map proved something far more interesting than where Bush's support lies (aka Bumpkinville) -- it showed quite starkly that the economic power in this country resides in the Blue states by more than 3-to-1 over the Red states. Let's make that power work for us.

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