Boycotts are a Quitters Game

Boycotts are for sore losers. Sure, it makes sense if you don’t agree with someone out in the market, talk with the purse. It makes sense. Money is a powerful tool. As the saying goes; hit ‘em where it hurts, in the wallet.

I wouldn’t argue that it’s all well and good that boycotts can be an tool for sociopolitical statements. I’m just not so sure they’re worth the effort.

Boycotts live on one paradigm, moral outrage. To ask for an en mass commercial egress, the offense has to be kind of bad. A boycott of shoelaces might be a poor choice but if Soylent Green really is people, you may have something.

After the the reelection of Barack Obama to the Presidency, I’ve a seen a number of protest-like movements to include a boycott of corporate campaign contributors. I disagree with this approach. More pointedly; if a company is lawfully and peacefully exercising it’s first amendment rights, a boycott sends the message that a simple opinion about ideology is not acceptable.

I’m not all to down with poo-pooing an exercise of the first amendment.

While you may disagree with with the policies of the President, it’s an opinion. Opposing opinions should exist, much like the opinion of Dan Cathy, “…we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.” Dan is the President of Chick-fil- A and you may recall the furor over this quote. This was accompanied with the protestation of many a city mayor vowing to disallow Chick-fil-A entry. You may also recall that the LGBT community called for a boycott.

Many Conservatives agree with Dan. Many people simply agreed with Dan. Moreover, many people agreed that Dan should have the right to state a simple social opinion without having to suffer a backlash of protests.

…and you may recall that the boycott became the best single day marketing promotion, if unintentional, for Chick-fil-A, ”While we don’t release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day,” Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement.”

By raising awareness of the statements made by the Chick-fil-A boss, the boycotters elevated the visibility of the original statement and the result was the opposite of the intent. The restaurant had a red letter day and the chain is still growing the offended mayer’s cities.

Boycott fail.

Since the cause agrees with many in the Conservative community, the issue of gay marriage, that the backlash and the idea that free speech is sacred was applauded.

Are we as Conservatives that even handed when the cause isn’t to our liking? Not as much as we like to think. This returns us to the point of moral outrage. Why would we boycott contributors to the Obama campaign?

Much like falsely shouting fire in a theater, say the name Walmart in a room of liberals and you’ll probably get just as extreme a reaction.

Walmart is, of course, the Evil Empire and its executives; Darth Vader and the pasty, hooded wrinkly guy. Walmart is the bellwether of liberal disdain. Recent union protests over Walmart employee practices despite claims otherwise, “Everything they’re saying is wrong, wrong, absolutely wrong. They give us benefits, they give us extras, they give us parties, we get bonuses, this is all wrong.”

Yet, Black Friday 2012 was a red letter day for Walmart. Why? No moral outrage. Workers, less than 50 of a million and a half workforce, walked off. Why? Employees probably like and appreciate their job. Shoppers know.

Brendan Greeley of Businessweek, ”Boycotts don’t always work. They fail when they are too silly, when consumers cannot summon enough moral repugnance to exceed the convenience of a purchase. Smith is urging America to exercise restraint in launching boycotts, but the restraint is already there, and always has been. We restrain ourselves from participating in a boycott if we are unconvinced by its purpose. It’s a miracle how this happens, it just comes about because humans possess judgment and free will.”

A boycott ceases effectiveness at the first sign of inconvenience. Why are fellow conservatives asking me to boycott everything from GEICO to movies? Yes, I know Warren Buffet supported Obama and most all of Hollywood has long been in the bag for the left.

I often make such economic decisions. Warren Buffet isn’t my insurer and I won’t be going to Matt Damon’s Promised Land.

I refuse to no longer go to movies. I really like movies. I do make economic decisions on what I do and don’t see. For the market to work, products we don’t like will exist and they symbiotically support the products we do like. If Oliver Stone wasn’t allowed in the market, then D’Souza’s 2016 might never have existed.

My distaste for Hollywood’s blind liberal support does not raise the bar far enough for me to avoid movies altogether. I’m not so passionate of my disagreement that I will stop.

According to Ryan Matthew Pierson, “Passions change, and it’s for that reason that so many boycott calls fall by the wayside. Sure, folks may be boycotting Apple today, but when the next product is announced during a highly covered keynote, Apple’s sales will only obliterate any impact that boycott might have had.”

It’s easy to be outraged today. What about tomorrow? Can the protestation be sustained such that it can have an economic impacts?

The answer is, not usually. It’s wasted effort.

What sticks in my craw is boycotting writ large, you will be hurting people. A liberal supporting company employs people. If the boycott works, you will be hurting those people. You are not only damaging the leadership but employees. This include Conservative and/or Republican employees. You hurt people. You affect livelihoods.

Let me be more pointed; you do this damage because you don’t believe in someone’s right to speak politically. I understand the first amendment is about the government’s abridging of free speech but as Conservatives, we should adhere to the spirit of the amendment and specifically when we it make us uncomfortable.

Boycotts are a quitters game. Given that boycotts are ineffective and, even when they are effective, can be damaging to innocent folks; boycotts are kind of lazy. A boycott says, ‘I don’t like what that guy says so I’m going to do…nothing’.

Action and change comes from hard work. Changing minds through the right message and a tenacious adherence to getting that message out.

…not from doing nothing and an ineffective nothing at that.

Cross posted at the Rightward Journal