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Shopping Your Politics


Sunday, December 22, 2013

“Attention Kmart Shoppers. You can now find products made by Democrats on aisle six … and on aisle nine you can find products made by Republicans. For our Tea Party shoppers we are now having a special on battery-operated Sarah Palin dolls. That’s 75 percent off the Sarah Palin dolls on aisle 13.”

Ben Bycel

Today, more and more Americans are shopping their politics. But how do you know which company, other than say Chic-fil-A and other companies that trumpet their political views, to give your hard-earned dollars to?

Maybe mall shops, outlet centers, or even our local merchants should provide information on their politics? Instead of a Better Business Bureau membership, maybe they could place a political symbol, such as a Donkey, an Elephant or a Tea Bag, in their windows?

Except for the most obsessed, how are the average Joes and Janes supposed know how to shop their politics? As all else in life these days, there’s a website for that: ShopYourPolitics.com, a well-organized guide for political shoppers with slightly fluid statistics.

The site’s motto is “Find Companies Who Share Your Political Beliefs, … and Reward Them.” Its sole criterion to determine a company’s politics seems to be: to whom has the company given political contributions? This is as good an indicator as anything, especially since the Supreme Court once again held that “Money is speech.” For those so inclined, political shopping means they get to voice their opinion on everything from gay rights to animal cruelty as they eat, buy airline tickets, or shop for the holidays.

The seemingly nonpartisan website lists industries and companies by industry, alphabetically, and, of course, by whether they lean Republican or Democratic. Looking to eat your politics? Conservatives have far more choices than liberals, who appear to be limited to a cup of coffee at Starbucks or a burger at Wendy’s.

The situation is reversed if you’re in need of cosmetics and lotions. Beginning with Estée Lauder, you Dems can spend your money, at among others, Paul Mitchell and the Body Shop, too. This doesn’t mean that just because you’re a Rep you shouldn’t look your best. Call your Republican-based Mary Kay representative for some needed attention. I think Richard Nixon did.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to banking, Democrats need to get a good mattress to put their money under. Almost all the banks at Shop Your Politics are big givers to Republican candidates.

GOP members can pull their credit cards out at conservative strongholds such as Best Buy, Lowes, Target, Sears, and JC Penney. And, if they need some cool clothes, Republicans can spend freely at the Gap and the Limited. But members of the party of the common man can fill their extra-large carts at the giant Costco stores with a clear conscience — it is solidly and heavily Democrat — and find their groovy duds at J. Crew, which is 100 percent Democrat in political giving. And you can guess where Tom’s of Maine sends its money.

Are you flying somewhere for the holidays? If you’re a Democrat you’ll want to book your trip on United or Alaska airlines. Republicans, you get all the rest of the carriers, including the solid Republican giver Southwest Airlines.

But Dems needn’t lose hope over the lack of airlines; for armchair travelers who want a book to take them away (or any one of a million other things), Amazon is big-time Democrat!

But the worst news for stalwart Republicans might be that a sexy holiday will require some compromise. You guessed it. Victoria’s Secret, with many a store in red states, has its corporate heart and everything else with the other guys.

As you would expect, most of the entertainment companies are Democratic strongholds, with DreamWorks high among them at 96 percent. But Republicans can enjoy a good family fare at home from DirecTV or on the radio through Clear Channel.

Yes, shopping can be serious political business. But should it be? Maybe we should all lighten up a little? ShopYourPolitics.com thinks so. In the small print disclaimer the site notes, “All materials presented are for amusement only.”

And I would add that it never hurts to buy things made in the good ol’ U.S.A.

Benjamin Bycel is an attorney and writer. He was the founding executive director of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and of the newly reconstituted Connecticut Ethics office. He serves as an expert witness in cases dealing with political and legal ethics. If you have an ethics question, send it to streetethics@independent.com.

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