Many of my super-liberal friends were posting last week about their plans to increase their shopping at Target because of an ad campaign, #AnywhereButTARGET, aimed at dissuading politically conservative shoppers from giving money to a liberal company.
Being a highly suspicious person, I had to wonder if this was a brilliant idea cooked up by the folks at Target to increase liberal commerce, so I started clicking to find out more about the organization behind the ad campaign, 2ndVote.com.
It turns out that 2ndVote.com is real . . . so real, in fact, that I was a bit chuffed to think of how their research could pay off for a liberal like me, who, like the conservatives, has to spend money and would prefer to spend money in alignment with my values. 2ndVote.com rates many, many, many companies on a scale of 1 to 5 for their support (or lack thereof) of the hot-button issues “Life, Marriage, 2nd Amendment, Environment, Education, Immigration.” A liberal shopper can simply flip 2ndVote’s “1 = bad, 5 = good” into “1 = good, 5 = bad,” in which case Chick-fil-A’s bright-green for “go-go-go there, conservative customer” becomes for me “you’ll be green with nausea if you give your money to this company that opposes everything you hold dear.”
Of course I wanted to know how Target scored . . . 1.4.
Definitely liberal, according to the 2ndVote criteria, and color-coded red for “don’t go here, conservative shopper!” But then things got interesting. The next logical step was looking up Target’s prime competitor in the stores-that-sell-everything category, Walmart.
What?! Walmart scores 1.3, lower than Target on the liberal-o-meter. Why, then, is 2ndVote not rolling out an #AnywhereButWALMART ad campaign? Why indeed? Presumably because Walmart has convinced rural and conservative Americans that Walmart is a store for them, that Walmart cares for them and is on their side, even though it’s not actually true, and not just because they support some of the same causes that Target does.
The reason I shop at Target instead of Walmart is not because I’m one of those awful “liberal elites.” I don’t shop at Walmart because they have followed a truly immoral business plan that has destroyed the economies of small towns across America. I don’t shop at Walmart because they pay their workers poorly and fight workers’ attempts to unionize. I don’t shop at Walmart because their monopsony power harms their suppliers as much as their labor practices harm their workers.
I assume that 2ndVote isn’t calling for a boycott of the more-liberal-than-Target Walmart because their core constituency prefers Walmart to Target and believes that Walmart shares their values. Walmart waves around the American flag while selling billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports, and they sell guns, too. The strategy seems to be working: decades after Walmart began its assault on the rural American economy, it has become part of the rural culture in the same way that fry bread, that deliciously artery-clogging way Native Americans invented to use government-issued staples, is now a part of Native American culture. Walmart may be, according to the 2ndVote criteria, a smidge more liberal than Target, but I’m not going to start giving my liberal dollars to Walmart, because in addition to valuing reproductive freedom, marriage equality, gun regulation, environmental protections, vibrant public education, and an immigration policy that embraces diversity, I also value sustainable and ethical business practices, and I can’t reward Walmart for what they have done and continue to do to the economy of rural America.
Walmart is not your friend, rural America. For what it’s worth, neither is Donald Trump. Trump cares about rural America as much as Walmart does – he cares enough to say that he cares, especially if saying he cares makes people believe he is on their side. He’s not.