Do you care much that greasy ol’ Pizza Hut gave tens of thousands in PAC money to the Republican Party last year? How about the fact that Taco Bell stopped pumping out their happily toxic semi-rancid meat-like substances just long enough to write a fat check to the conservative Right? Does it matter a whit that, say, Fruit of the Loom underwear gave nearly 100 percent of its corporate donations to tidy-whitey-wearing Republicans, nearly every one of whom I’m guessing wouldn’t know appetizing undergarments from a flap of burlap and some string?
This is what happened: there was this list, a long and rather surprising list of major consumer corporations in America, and it detailed just how much money each company had forked over to the respective political parties last year in political-action-committee (PAC) donations. Some of the companies’ fiscal behavior might surprise you and even make you reconsider your consumer options. For example, who would guess that Amazon.com gave sixty percent of its donations to the GOP? On the other hand, no surprise that Coors Brewing gave almost every penny of their donations to Republicans, all while furthering the cause of undrinkable piss-water beer made for red-blooded Americans who lack taste buds and hope.
This list recently winged its way around the Internet and landed in a million liberal e-mail boxes and it became an instant mini sensation, and then did what any good electronic sensation does: it spawned a website. The site, called buyblue.org, spawned a mini movement, which spawned this very column: you are hereby encouraged to go see for yourself which big shiny companies suck up to the happy, sneering, homophobic, enviro-slapping, warmongering Republicans, and which give thousands to the whiny, limping, kick-us-when-we’re-down Democrats.
And just what are you supposed to do with this information? Well, like any good American living in a gutted economy that’s trillions in debt, all while a massive, bogus, unwinnable war is being waged by the most irresponsible cadre of pseudo-leaders this nation has ever known, you go shopping. But maybe you shift your choices a little. You change where your weakened and abused dollar goes as it slowly dawns on you that you might not be as powerless as you might’ve thought.
And maybe you recognize that if there’s one thing corporations never fail to respond to, it’s the bottom line. I don’t care how shriveled the souls of a given company’s GOP-lovin’ board of directors may be, if they see profits dropping because all the shoppers in the huge and culturally potent blue cities—the shoppers, in other words, who don’t live in the red welfare states and hence who actually have a shred of disposable income and maybe a modicum of concern and integrity regarding who profits when they spend it—if they notice that those shoppers are suddenly skipping nasty little Circuit City (98 percent to Repubs) and instead buy their compressed-plastic Japanese-made landfill-ready electronics at monstrous Price Club (98 percent to Dems), it sends them a message. And the message is, in a calm and respectful nutshell, “Bite me.”
What can you do? You can skip the Marriott or the Holiday Inn (76 and 73 percent to the GOP, respectively), and stay at the lib-friendly Hyatt. Skip Yahoo.com (58 percent to the GOP—what the hell?) and head over to Google, which gave 100 percent (!) of their donations to the Dems. Toss American and Continental; fly JetBlue. Join NetFlix. Screw Repub-lovin’ Wal-Mart and K-Mart (and if you’re reading this column, chances are you need no prompting from me to avoid those epic karmic wastelands), and head over to the giant vortex of consumer madness known as Bed Bath & Beyond, which gave 93 percent to the Dems. Another amazing example? Starbucks. As much as I despise their ruthless march into funky neighborhoods and strip malls across the nation, the coffee monolith does have truly fabulous employee benefits and incredible customer service, and now you learn that they gave 100 percent of their donations to the Democrats.
As for Amazon, it is a bit distressing for many of us who love that bulbous megastore and shop there all the time to discover that they gave so much to Republicans, which is just a bit odd, given how they’re based in hugely liberal Seattle, and geeky CEO Jeff Bezos seemed at one time to be reasonably attuned and quirky. And then again, Amazon did give forty percent to Democrats. On the other hand, the venerable but terminally annoying Barnes & Noble gave 98 percent to the Dems. I could never stand Barnes & Noble, but now, along with Starbucks, I hate them a little less. So maybe I’ll just skip Amazon and buy my next gift copy of The Surrender or What’s the Matter with Kansas? or The Book of Bunny Suicides from B&N instead.
Mark Morford’s Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate (subscribe at: www.sfgate.com/newsletters).