Measure 36 was really personal. The presidential campaign was just shocking. My partner and I got together with some friends and talked about what we could do (after commiserating on our defeats first, of course). We talked about what the other side does as standard practice. And what we saw on the other side was the good ol’ boys and their network.
The good ol’ boys buy each others services, make sure they help their friends in the “magic circle”, and give business to each other to ensure their mutual success. Before the election I had somewhat followed the concept of voting with my dollar. But after the election, I held onto it as a course of action and empowerment for something I could do to ensure my voice was heard and to keep fighting the good fight.
And I love that phrase. Voting with your dollar. My vote didn’t count for jack shit on those two campaigns I mentioned above. (If I was a more positive person I could argue that of course it did). But one of the most powerful statements you can make is where and how you spend your money. Since last November we’ve really thought twice about where and how we spend our money. We needed a new porch railing: I went to the Portland Gay Yellow pages to find a fellow queer or queer supporting business. Same thing with landscaping help. We buy with confidence at Costco, knowing they’re one of the largest “Buy Blue” supporters. We support local businesses that give back to the community.
Do I research every single purchase I make? No. Do I refuse to buy from a business that doesn’t make any statement whatsoever? Of course not. But why should I give my money to a business that will use a portion of my money to fight causes that I give money to support? And after having my personal relationships out there on the line for people to squabble over and seeing the environmental protection laws going to hell in a handbasket, among other things including going to war, I want to say I have hope and faith in our government and our governmental system, but I don’t.
But I do have a job, and I do spend money. And I hold the power for where I spend it. I have options and I utilize them. If you’re a business that supports causes that I believe in, I want to know about it. Because I’ll support you. But if you use your dollars to support discrimination or fight environmental regulations or to make money from poor people like gambling, I hope my money never gets you one cent.
I talked this over with a friend at lunch today. He’d much rather buy things from people he knows. Being a foodie, he frequents restaurants where he knows and likes the owners. He knows where they buy their produce from. He likes the knowing. And I think that’s a lot of what this is all about: being aware of what you’re supporting when you buy a product or service. And feeling okay with it. Certainly the voting with your dollar may not be the right thing for everyone to do, particularly when it comes to accessibility, budget, quality etc. But being aware that every time you spend your money you hold the power to make a statement of what you believe in, that’s pretty cool. The difference between the new “vote with your dollar” mentality eschewed by the left is no different than the long held beliefs in the good ol’ boy network on the right. We’re just being upfront and vocal about it.
So what if you want to vote with your dollar?
-Look at groups or memberships of the company you’re purchasing from;
-Check out on-line resources like Buy Blueto check political donations of companies you’re supporting;
-Pay attention to in-store signage, newsletters and affiliate programs of the stores or organizations you support;
-If you patronize a business that you see is participating in sponsorship of a program or project that you disagree with, let the business know your position and ask them to stop. Let them know why and tell them you’re a customer.
-Websites such as www.followthemoney.org and www.opensecrets.org allow you to see what individuals or businesses support what campaigns.
-Talk with friends and family about your choice to vote with your dollar and why. Share with them information that you find along the way: for many people it can be shocking to discover your favorite clothing store, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologe, for example, is owned by a huge right wing supporter. Or that your health club, Curves, is owned by a born-again Christian and supporter of anti-abortion initiatives . Often just sharing the facts is enlightening enough.
-Clarify what you will and won’t support. Often the chain of support can be complicated. Don’t feel it’s all or nothing: if it means starting with a simple weekly decision, start there.
-Up the ante and revise your Vote With Your Dollar manifesto yearly. For example, we’re now looking beyond services and local goods: what’s the political stance and record of our mortgage company? And what’s our option in this regard? If I can get comparative rates and quality of service from a company that provides the same thing yet supports my political beliefs and the community organizations I support, I’d much rather see my dollars go there. And the big ticket items are key: mortgage, autos, insurance, appliances etc.
And finally, this whole post stemmed from a little scofflaw that broke out about where to eat for dinner over at Metroblogs and then continued into to its own post and topic (thanks Betsy for capturing that). When there are hundreds of options in this great foodie town, you can bet I won’t go to one that actually resides inside of a Shilo Inn. That’s akin to walking into the lion’s den. I can get the same, if not better quality food, in a kajillion other places and know that my $25 is not supporting political action that’s geared at discriminating against me. That, is a very easy decision.
About the owner of Shilo Inns…He has been a longtime funder and vocal supporter of conservative politics in Oregon. A 5-minute websearch also pulled…
- Most recently he was cited for poaching and illegal hunting activity
- He’s the second greatest beneficiary of state-sponsored video poker
- He’s supported the scandals of Bill Sizemore
- He supported the Bush campaign.
And in most circles, he’s referred to as “ultra-conservative.”