Steve Taylor skewered the insularity of Christian Yellow Pages back in 1984 with his song "Guilty By Association":
So you need a new car? Let your fingers take a walk
through the business guide for the "born again" flock.
You'll be keeping all your money in the kingdom now
and you'll only drink milk from a Christian cow.
Taylor's song came to mind as I read Jennifer Skalka's report for the Chicago Tribune about the websites Choose the Blue and Buy Blue, which both encourage frustrated John Kerry supporters to let their politics shape where they spend money.
Skalka explains that Ann and Bill Duvall used records from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics to document donations by leading American companies and their employees.
"This is not a boycott," said Bill Duvall, a software creator who was involved in the transmission of the first e-mail message 35 years ago. ". . . It's just that we believe it's possible to direct some of your spending so we can begin to at least even the playing field."
A link on Buy Blue's website describes the mission more bluntly: "Find out which businesses have been naughty . . . and which have been nice. Shop accordingly!"
The numbers on Choose the Blue point to some surprises. Who would have thought that Arby's, with its talking oven-mitt mascot, is pure blue but Taco Bell is mostly Republican? Say it isn't so, Taco Bell Chihuahua!
On the media front, Choose the Blue devotes a front-page link to News Corp., which shows that Rupert Murdoch's employees are not nearly as predictable in their politics as one might expect.
Here are some other numbers from Choose the Blue:
||Hard Rock Cafe||100
|Auto insurance||Retail stores|
||Barnes & Noble||98
||New York Jets||9
|Car rental||Travel agents|
Skalka spoke with two scholars who are skeptical about how well the strategy will work:
"The question that remains then is which side does a better job of spreading the word to those who are most likely to act on it," said Eszter Hargittai, an assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University and a faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research.
Richard Feinberg of Purdue University said most people don't make their shopping decisions based on personal ideology. They look for the best bargains or the most convenient stores.
"The handful of people that it might influence are already boycotting or not spending money on businesses that they think go against their political grain," said Feinberg, director of the school's Center for Customer Driven Quality. "It's not going to change a neutral person."
Happy shopping to all Americans, especially during the holy season of Christmahanukwanza!