Alex Blaze

Oligarchy is fine if it's fabulous

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 02, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: best buy, Citizens United, HRC, letter, LGBT, power, republican, Target, tom emmer

I asked last week if oligarchy was OK as long as it was gay-friendly, and HRC answered my questionelection08.jpg: Yes, yes it is. Here's part of the letter they're sending to Best Buy and Target after both corporations gave huge donations to a PAC supporting an anti-gay, anti-working class, wingnut gubernatorial candidate:

It's time to make things right. The very least you can do to begin rebuilding your image among fair-minded consumers is to make equivalent donations to groups that support candidates who will put all Minnesota families first and fulfill the promises of our highest ideals.

There ya go. The fact that corporations are trying to usurp our democratic power isn't the problem. Heck, if they give money to an anti-gay candidate, the solution is to meddle even more in the political process by giving money to pro-gay candidates.

Another unintentionally funny part of HRC's letter is this:

No matter your motivations in making these donations, they didn't occur in a vacuum. Same-sex couples in your home state are denied the equality given to other couples in marriage and many state leaders are poised to right that inequity very soon. $250,000 in contributions to those who would stand in the way is a punch in the gut to those of us who want to see all families treated fairly. What may have sounded like a "good business decision" in the board room turns out to be a horribly short-sighted business decision when millions of consumers lose respect for your companies.

Hmmm... let's see. Their image was hurt, true, but it's not like everyone cares and not even a large fraction of the US knows about those donations. The question is: will the amount of money lost through the loss of customers be greater than the amount of money Target and Best Buy stand to gain through the tax breaks and deregulation that Tom Emmer is promising, along with advancing the specific pro-aristocracy worldview MN Forward espouses?

I'm doubtful - Target and Best Buy are thinking bigger picture here than the rest of us are and they know there's lots of money to be gained in strengthening their grip on the government, and not just this year or next year but over the next few decades.

While I support anyone's decision, as always, to stop shopping at any big box store for any reason, we do also need to realize that corporations are about the bottom line and that the bottom line will never let them give up raw power to protect the brand. The most they'll do is find better ways to market around these donations, better excuses for giving to anti-gay candidates, and maybe, just maybe, they'll avoid donating to the absolute most egregious anti-gay candidates. That's all we can expect on this end.

In the meantime, corporations are going to keep on giving to Republicans, the party that's far more open about their plans to help corporations, which also happens to be the same party that (more) openly hates LGBT people. This isn't a coincidence; rightwingers understand the "interconnectedness" of these issues. Both are about authoritarian power and using it to bend others to the will of people with power, whether we're talking about a favorable economic environment giving rich people more money, a favorable labor environment that gives employers the right to employ fewer people and work them harder and not worry about their safety, or a favorable social environment that gives more power to religion to force others to follow their religious rules and keep away from behavior that bothers them.

In other words, they don't need a call to form a "coalition" since they understand their ideology, and they can deploy some of these issues to get parts of the rest of us to vote for their candidates.

The way we fight against these sorts of donations is by reducing the effect of money on elections, which is a lot harder than just getting mad at Target but has the added benefit of actually solving the problem. I don't think all too many queer people would have a problem with anti-gay folks making their case before the people if we could all speak at the same volume, since our case is a whole lot better than theirs. But once all this money comes into play....

Otherwise, we're just begging large corporations to be LGBT-friendly so that they'll put people in power who are LGBT-friendly. We're even further separated from the spirit of democracy - putting power in the people's hands - and left in a far less effective position. Voting with our dollars isn't a means to power, it's just what we're left with after we've lost our real power: voting with our votes.

Here's all of HRC's letter:

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 2, 2010 9:16 AM

Ok, firstly the specialty stores are pretty much gone and Wal Mart is the worst both as employer and benefits provider. Wal Mart is also huge in comparative size to Target and caters to a more conservative small town base. As I said before, buy a share of stock and put your complaint before an annual meeting. Believe me, the "anti" partner and marriage benefit rights groups are.

Target is an employer of GLBT persons and Walmart would harass and fire anyone they discovered while they paid lower wages/benefits into the bargain.

So, have a ball, America must be at full employment or no one would have time for this.

buy a share of stock and put your complaint before an annual meeting.


Agreed. Sarah Whitman has been doing this for years with a lot of success.

infulleffect | August 2, 2010 9:52 AM

Thanks, again, Alex! I learned something new from your analysis in this article, as well. Keep bringing it!

Sorry Alex but have to disagree with you. We have already lost the battle on whether corporation can spend obscene amounts on campaigns so the only way to hit them is in the pocket book. This is exactly what companies and ultimately shareholders understand. If their profits and bottom lines drop that's when they take notice. Buying one stock and then complaining gets you nowhere. The company is mainly owned by a few heavy hitters show your complaint at annual meeting will get laughed off. You at the anti-gay groups that tried to do this at Pepsi.
The only thing these companies understand is a loss of money. It's solely was drives them so it is the only way to fight them by making their actions have a cost.

All hail the oligarchy. Pay homage with your shopping dollars.