Even though DNC Chairman, Howard Dean, last year increased Democratic non-election year fund raising by 20%, The Republicans still raised 2.2 dollars for every dollar Democrats raised; largely due to corporate contributions. When we have so little time to advocate and fundraise for the Democratic Party and other causes that we care about, what can we do to fight this? The answer is simple: Shopping.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Raven Brooks, President and Chair, and Martha Ture, Research Director and Volunteer Coordinator of BuyBlue.org. They said that, the day after the 2004 elections they were talking on the Daily Kos Blog when a conversation arose. They recognized, “how campaign contributions by corporations had come to dictate and drive what is supposed to be representative democracy, one person one vote, turning it into one dollar one vote, let us fight back with what we have; our dollars. If the corporations use our consumer dollars to fund political campaigns, let us do business with those companies whose visions and policies we approve.” This led to the creation of BuyBlue.Org. A website that “provides the public with information about the political campaign contributions of the C-level executives of the companies whose products and services we use every day. We also provide information on the environmental, human rights, labor, social responsibility, and employment equality track records of the companies….We urge people to support companies that embrace a triple bottom line vision of planet, people, and profit… We point out the records of all companies we rate with this in mind. “
Consumer Activism has a long history in the United States. One of the earliest examples being the Boston Tea Party, when the colonists refused to buy British tea as a protest against the 1773 Tea Act. When you purchase an item you form a connection with the business that manufactures the item, the laborer who makes it, the ecosystem affected by it manufacture and use, and the nation that produces it. Shopping can not only be a private pleasure, put a tool to serve the public good. It is a powerful tool. Martha told me, “A computer pioneer once said that if everyone who voted Democratic in 2004 shifted just $100 a year from Red-supporting companies to Blue-supporting companies that would shift $5 billion in the United States economy in one year.” Think about the impact that would have. How much do you spend in a year? Martha asks, “Suppose you chose to spend your dollars with companies that do support your values, and don’t work against them? You feel better about yourself, you get equal or better value, knowing you’re not working against your best interests, and you are supporting companies with sound labor, environment, and hiring records.”
The only way Democrats are going to catch up to Republicans in the fundraising department is to decrease the amount of corporate contributions to the Republican Party and increase the amount of corporate contributions to the Democratic party. So before, you head to the store next time, check to see if companies that support the Democratic Party, make the products you are buying. Finding out is easy, check out the companion article BuyBlue.org. It will tell you more about BuyBlue.Org and how to use their site. The next time you go shopping, vote with your pocketbook.