I did posted this diary a couple of days ago, but I posted it at 2AM, and I think it's important enough to merit being seen in daylight hours. And for you sticklers for originality, the post has been modified for your reading pleasure.
Now... onto the post!
There was a diary a few days ago which advocated that we have a general boycott on Inauguration Day. I think that's a bad idea, mostly because I own a small retail store.
Let me tell you that owning a small retail store is not for the weak. It is a constant fight, tooth and nail, to keep your doors open, to pay your rent, to pay your staff, and to keep smiling.
My little store is true blue through and through. We have sayings in our window warning about fascism, and we give away free copies to the folks who come in and ask for them. We host benefits for liberal causes and candidates, and theatre groups, and cat shelters. We show the work of over 50 artists, and give free concerts. We buy from liberals, and we make no secret of our politics. And we've lost sales because of it. And that's fine. Because it's important. You'd figure I'd make it up on the blue customers, but, oddly, that just never happens. And that's wrong.
Liberals often shoot themselves in the foot economically speaking, and that's the purpose of this post... to bring up a way to live that the conservatives already know. Republicans walk out of my store, hell, they generally don't come in. They spit on my window. But, do you turn away from conservative stores? Bet you don't. Because we're liberals, we try to understand the other point of view; we try to incorporate other views into the tapestry of our lives, so we don't punish people who disagree with us.
And, in the long-term, that's great. But in the short-term, that will kill us.
Let's just take this idea floating around about a general strike. In the best case, who's going to participate in a general strike? Liberals and progressives. And what will they strike? Walmart? Exxon? McDonalds? No. The good liberals and progressives don't shop there anyway. They'll punish the liberal and progressive establishments. They'll punish the very people they should reward.
That's why general strikes and boycotts will always hurt me and stores like me a lot more than it will hurt Walmart and stores like it.
The only way to hurt Walmart is not to shop there. Ever. For any reason. Period.
And, know what else it owns, and don't shop there either.
Tell your friends, tell your relatives. Close down Walmart in all the blue states. Let them thrive in Alabama if they want to, but there's no place for them in Hawaii.
And do your research, if you're not eating at McDonalds (because they're bad) and instead eat at Boston Market or Chipolte (because they're good), your dollars still go into McDonalds coffers. What kind of statement are you making? That you prefer better food, not that you don't like their politics.
Your dollars communicate far more effectively than your vote, which may or may not be counted in the long run anyway. So, you have to be as smart with your dollars as you would with your vote. Because they're the last voice you have left.
And if you want to be smart with your dollars, you have to simultaneously reward blue and punish red. Dollars are finite, so make them work double duty.
Earn your revenue from red corporations. Spend it in blue ones. Don't buy from mega-super-stores. Buy from your local mom and pop grocer, or your independent bookstore, or coffee shop, or farmers market, or health food store, and don't complain if the prices are a little higher. We little stores can't buy in the numbers that the big stores do, so we can't pay as little as they do; at the same time, we can't negotiate leases the same way they do, so our costs are higher. But I assure you, if you don't support little stores, eventually, there will be nothing left but big stores and then you'll lose your voice altogether.
When you go into a little store, chat up the folks who work there. What do they think of the war? What do they think of W? If they love him, great. Leave. Go to another store that thinks he sucks. In a small store, the employees are likely to have the same politics as the bosses. It's just the way it works. In little stores, the employees are family. If you get the warm-fuzzies, patronize that store and get your friends to do likewise.
Let your dollars talk at every level. Take your courses from blue profs. Let the red profs talk to empty air. Let the universities see that liberal profs are more popular, and bring them in. Let them see that right-wing-yahoos have empty classrooms, and, eventually, there will be fewer right-wing-yahoos teaching (and the ones that do will keep their mouths shut).
If you pay out-of-state tuition, pay it to a blue state school. If you go to a private college, see if that college offers domestic partner benefits to its employees. If not, try a different college.
If your church is red-red-red, you don't need to put a dollar on the collection plate. In fact, you don't need to be there at all. Go to a blue church instead. Let the red churches wither. Make the blue churches prosper. If you do volunteer work for your church, make sure that the church speaks the values that you want, or take your efforts elsewhere.
At the same time, don't be shy about working for red companies. You can paint Jerry Falwell's house any damn color he wants. But spend the money you make on the job buying the Utne Reader or tipping a blue waitress. If you sell your services by the hour, charge more to work for a red company than a blue one. Give a discount to corporations that offer liberal benefits to employees or contribute to politicians you favor.
Oh, and, don't use credit cards if you can avoid it. Use dollars. And on each dollar, print a small blue dollar sign on the left side of the bill just above and to the left of the letter denoting where the bill was printed (at least this is the way it was when the Gay$ thing was going on, putting it on the right side would make the dollar void). Even if you live in the reddest town in the reddest state, those blue dollars will eventually find their way to the Walmart or McDonalds and the owners will see that the blue dollars are worth courting. Maybe they'll even start contributing to blue causes.
Use your dollars like carrots for blue businesses and sticks for red. Again, now that your votes don't count, your dollars are all you have left.