Help Stop Bush:
Boycott GOP Companies
By Bob Schober
Since the 2004 election, many of us have been grasping for something to do. "What’s next?" seems to be the question of the day for us liberals, now faced with a presumptive right-wing majority salivating to remake America.
So, while Bob was recently painting, Rosa Parks and the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott came to mind, and it all fell in place - we liberals CAN fight back in terms well understood by the right wing. We can boycott those companies that contributed heavily to the Republican cause. Their money helped the GOP to denigrate liberals; we can use our dollars to hit back where it really hurts — on the bottom line. The time has come to show them that their politics has an economic consequence.
We’d only be following the philosophical footsteps of Ayn Rand, whose protagonist John Galt in Atlas Shrugged convinced the productive, but vilified, members of society to drop out and let the system crash. The right wing glorifies her philosophy, and how delicious that we’d be turning it back on them by withholding our dollars. And don’t forget the tradition set by this country’s forefathers and foremothers, who boycotted another King George and his British Empire business supporters.
We’re salivating over the prospect of millions of frustrated liberals, progressives and others who oppose the Bush administration, tired of being slimed by the right-wing media and politicians, individually sending letters to the corporate offices of companies who lend major support to those causes. Imagine the Republican CEOs getting thousands of letters saying, "You have lost me as a customer until you show a balanced contribution to all political parties."
The GOP message during the campaign was that liberals are unpatriotic and anti-American - well, we’ll give these companies their wish and, Galt-style, check out. These companies won’t have to suffer our tainted dollars anymore. You can get donor information on such Web sites as Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org) and Political MoneyLine (http://www.fecinfo.com), which compile the information from Federal Election Commission databases.
And here is some of what you’ll find:
* Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and PriceWaterhouseCoopers were the top three corporate contributors to Bush this cycle.
* Wal-Mart donated 82 percent of its $1.8 million contributions to Republicans this cycle.
* Verizon Communications donated 61 percent of its $1.23 million to the Republicans.
But there are some companies who donated more heavily to Democrats, and for the time being, they will continue to have our support. They include Microsoft (67 percent), whose software we are using to write this column; JP Morgan Chase (55 percent), through which we have credit cards; and Walt Disney (71 percent).
But those credit card and debt financing offers from MBNA (75 percent to the GOP) will now be thrown automatically away. And we’re send our packages through the U.S. Post Office, where 79 percent of the National Association of Letter Carriers donations went to Democrats, rather than support either FedEx or United Parcel Service, which spent heavily (68 percent and 75 percent, respectively) on Republicans.
Analysis of the data, however, show that corporations almost always hedge their bets by contributing at least something to both sides; no doubt the percentages will change once the Democrats regain political power. The real problem, as we see it, is corporate influence, and if we want democracy long term, we have to cleanse our politics of all such influence, regardless if they support our political causes.
But that’s the long-term goal; we see this initial boycott as a way of channeling the political heat to shifting some people away from corporate patronage to local, sustainable businesses.
The following are corporations that mostly support the Republican Party over the Democratic Party in financial contributions, with addresses and other info of some. If you join this boycott campaign, be sure to mail and/or fax them letters saying what you are doing and why. We also included some companies that support mostly Democrats and progressives to purchase their services and products.
Conagra Foods – includes brands like Armour, Banquet, Blue Bonnet, Butterball, Chef Boyardee, Chun King, Decker Eckrich, Fleishmann's, Healthy Choice, Hunt's, Jiffy Pop, Kid Cuisine, Knott's Berry Farm, La Choy, Libby's, Luck's, Manwich, Orville Redenbacher's, Patio, Peter Pan, Ranch Style, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Swiss Miss, Van Camp's, Wesson, Wolf.
Flowers Industries – includes brands like Flowers, Nature's Own, Sunbeam, ButterKrust, Mrs. Freshley's.
Smithfield Foods – includes brands like Smithfield, Farmfield, Cumberland Gap, Krakus, Stefano.
Outback Steakhouse – includes Outback, Lee Roy Selmon's, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.
Brinker International – includes Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, On the Border.Tyson Foods
Companies that mostly contribute to Democrats
Bob Schober is a free-lance journalist in the Pittsburgh area who has worked for The Dallas Morning News, among other newspapers. Jackson Thoreau is a writer/journalist in the Washington, D.C., area.
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