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July 30, 2012

Unnecessary Drama: When Corporations Enter the Political Fray

With the 2012 election rapidly approaching, the political climate in America is more polarized than ever. Even some businesses have stepped into the fray by giving money to and voicing support for various political causes. However, the decision to take a political stand has cost some corporations customers, and made them the subject of public boycotts.

As a future voter in the 2012 election, Lora, a high school senior from Alexandria, Va., is curious to see what directly and indirectly affects which candidate will become president. Also a fervent consumer, she hopes to identify which stores she frequents that have risked losing consumers to take a stand this election season.

Former Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin shows off her bag of Chick-Fil-A.

Former Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin shows off her Chick-fil-A bag.

During the 2008 election, Target donated 52 percent of its 322,000 campaign expenditures to Democratic committees, caucuses and political platforms. That same year, Wal-Mart’s political action committee donated 1.4 million dollars to Republican candidates, political committees and causes. I shopped in both stores without knowing whether or not they were politically affiliated, and preferred it that way. In a capitalist society that prides its self on a strong private sector, does a private company’s political affiliation matter?


Lora, senior, T.C. WIlliams High School.

Making headlines during the 2012 election is whether or not major corporations will support Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage. After declaring itself “pro-gay marriage,” the Starbucks Corporation has become the target of “Dump Starbucks” campaigns by those who maintain the biblical representation of marriage. On, a commenter stated that they “will stop going to Starbucks” and for naysayers to “tolerate [my] intolerance.”

Chick-fil-A—an openly Christian organization that still closes its stores on Sunday—has been boycotted in Chicago and Boston for not supporting same-sex marriage. In return for airing its political opinions, both Starbucks and Chick-fil-A could not only lose their consumers, but their position on every highway and street corner available.

There are consumers who will boycott stores that do not support their lifestyle with the same fervor political activists boycotted Woolworth’s Department Stores in the 1960s for not allowing African-Americans to sit at its lunch counter. And in an economy still recovering from the most recent recession, lost choices and lost revenue can make a difference.

Consumers are also voters. If companies continue to publicize what party platforms they support alongside their next sale, where you shop could become as equally a defining factor as who you vote for in the next election. Capitalism at its best creates a market unrestrained by the federal government. I believe that private companies should not allow themselves to become part of political debates—if only to preserve this distinction.

Lora attends high school at T.C. Williams in Alexandria, Virginia. This year she will be a senior, and the News and Television editor at Theogony, T.C.’s school newspaper. Formerly an Opinions and Editorials contributor, she looks forward to continuing a career in print and broadcast journalism.

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