Boycotts are always slightly embarrassing, if only because they starkly underline a power disparity between the boycotted party and the boycotter. While I am no fan of boycotts I understand their purpose and have adhered to a few private boycotts.
There are certain celebrities that I will not pay to see. The boycott is an act of protest, but it is also a political statement. Sean Penn does not care, nor will he ever know, that I will not part with a nickel for his brand of entertainment. That’s fine. To withhold my meager dollars from complicity in another photo opportunity with Hugh Chavez is satisfaction enough for me.
A favorite tactic of the Left, boycotts are an annoying, but legitimate form of protest. Of course Leftist boycotts of Target, Wal-Mart, Chik-fil-a, and so on provide me a useful guide as to where I want to spend my money, but even then the boycott (ironically in these cases) served the purpose of raising awareness. Through a boycott the weak can take a stand against the strong. As an admirer of lost causes, I get it.
But there is a line.
As its effectiveness and size grows, a boycott may cross a line and move from an act of protest to an act of bullying.
The announcement today that the Democrat Party was calling for a boycott of Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola leapt over that line. The Democrat boycott is an act of naked political aggression and overt bullying.
Democrats are a governing party. They hold the executive branch and the United States Senate. There is no absence of power. In fact, Democrats are bullies because they have more power than Coke. A government party has access to laws, regulations, and a vast array of other carrots and sticks that must only be wielded with great responsibility.
In this particular case Democrats want to boycott Coke and Wal-Mart because they provide donations to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In the interest of full disclosure, I know and admire ALEC. If you are unfamiliar ALEC is variety of think-tank that provides information and model legislation for state legislators. They are an excellent resource if you are one of the nations part-time state legislators and lack the staff and time to research what other states are doing about a particular policy concern. ALEC espouses “Jeffersonian principles” of limited government, and thus, is a right-leaning institution, though by no means are they exclusively so.
The sin of Coke and Wal-Mart is that they support ALEC. ALEC in turn has offered model legislation for voter identification laws. Thus, high-ranking Democrat officials, suggesting that they were speaking for the party, called for a massive, nationwide boycott. Coca-Cola quickly caved and announced it would withdraw support from ALEC. Admirably, Wal-Mart is standing its ground.
The threat of economic malfeasance, and the certain implication of on-going governmental “hassles” should be beneath a major political party. The Democrat administration of President Obama (@stopbullying.gov) defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.” Strike the phrase “among school aged children” and the definition fits the boycott effort.
Sadly, this administration and its supporters have made bullying a central tactic in pursuit of their political goals. It is shameful.
Tomorrow, I will swing by Wal-Mart to pick up a case of Pepsi.