It’s hot to boycott.
We’ve made it a bit hard on ourselves now as the conglomeration of commercial business has knocked all of our other, independent, local retailers out of the running. Could this emotional political division bring it back? Do we have to grow and raise all of our own food and spin wool to avoid supporting white supremacy, suppression of womens’ rights, and gun violence at the dinner table? Maybe.
In the week since it was announced that SoulCycle and Equinox’s membership dues were spinning straight up the corporate ladder to a Trump supporter and fundraiser I have had a number of fraught conversations with people about how much they are willing to let their values impact their lifestyle. That sounds judgmental, but its perfectly reasonable really. Adulting is challenging at the best of times and you’ve just about eked out a routine that doesn’t make you glare at passing strangers only to find out a habit you’re quite fond of supports something you strongly oppose. For many people their gym is a community they connect with; visiting actually releases chemicals that make your brain happy and creates positive neural pathways. Walking away from that (or lunging, or whatever) is no small feat. It would hurt. And it’s not that dissimilar for the slew of fast food companies that fall into the same category. What even is a night out without a 3am Crunchwrap Supreme?? Are they Fascism Fries now?
Then I got to thinking about the American Revolution. We don’t look back nearly enough (unless you’re a politician looking for a convenient quote) which is a shame, because we are remarkably unoriginal and learning from our forefathers mistakes (instead of taking their word as gospel) is theoretically simple and easy. I digress. Revolution. Two hundred and fifty years ago brand-new, self-devised Americans decided they didn’t like what their tax dollars were supporting. More specifically they didn’t like that they had no say in what those tax dollars were supporting, namely wars and policies that benefited a parent company, if you will, and worked in their disinterest.
We need to accept that radical change might hurt. The colonists gave up tea (and coffee, and glass, etc.) and if you’ve ever had a caffeine headache you know that hurt. No one ever said revolution was easy – very many people have definitely said the opposite – and we’re looking at a Revolution from systemic racism, a blurring of the line between church and state, and conglomerated capitalism. The interesting thing about the latter is that we have a scenario where you literally can vote with your dollar. In fact, given gerrymandering and insecure elections, it may very well be the most effective vote you can cast.
The opposition has said that boycotting hurts the employees, that taking your custom to back up your values limits choice, even though it quite literally is a choice. You are putting yourself in opposition to employees that choose to work for a company that has put their money behind their values. There would be no point to the exercise if it didn’t threaten the company’s ability to function, including providing employment. According to the breakdown of corporate political support from Buycott, much of this support is coming from senior staff, often in greater amounts than the company itself. You cannot pick and choose the parts you want to break from. You are free to choose to be part of something you don’t agree with. Or not. This is America, where we’re free to make that choice. But no one said it wouldn’t hurt if you decide to put your money where your mouth eats. Most fast food, gyms, and many grocery stores are off the table if you don’t want your dollars to add to Trump’s $43,000,000+ campaign fund.
“People are realizing that they have a vote everyday with their purchasing power, and they can take a stand every single day with how they spend their money,” says Nathan Lerner, executive director at the Democratic Coalition Against Trump.
So, what are you supposed to do? Your best. Chances are you are going to accidentally contribute to all kinds of political funds that you don’t agree with in very small ways all the time. Decide which ones matter the most to you, do your research, and find some alternatives that you can live with. Next November’s election does not hinge solely on your $5.99 Home Depot light bulbs. Much like your carbon footprint though, maybe consider offsetting the impact by donating to charities that support the causes you want to lift up.
The rest of us will use this as a two birds, one stone excuse to continue avoiding exercising in organized groups.