After a politically correct Target announced last month that it would henceforth allow transgendered “team members” (aka employees) and “guests” (aka customers) to use the restroom of their choice, the American Family Association shifted into high gear.
The AFA quickly called for a consumer boycott of Target, and within 10 days, its online petition had garnered a surprising 1 million pledges of Americans promising not to shop at the nation’s third-largest department store chain.
Signatories vowed to make Target pay a price for wading unnecessarily into a contentious national debate. Even if they couldn’t make the retailer see the light, they could make it feel the heat with a hit to its bottom line.
The petition and boycott appeared to be working: The share price of Target’s stock fell from $84.10 on April 19, the day of its announcement, to about $79.36 just 10 days later on April 29. The Family Policy Institute calculated that that loss of $4.74 per share translated to a loss of corporate valuation of more than $2.5 billion.
Target will no doubt try to dismiss that as routine stock-market price fluctuations, but it will be more difficult for the retailer to explain away the damage to its favorability rating as tracked by the YouGov BrandIndex.
YouGov reported April 28 that “the percentage of consumers who would consider buying items at Target the next time they want to go shopping at a department store dropped from 42 to 38 percent over the past two weeks.”
The AFA’s pushback against Target for kowtowing to a minuscule but militant minority should serve as an object lesson to political conservatives, who have been disturbingly slow — until now — to recognize the power of petitions and boycotts, both longtime weapons of choice of the left.
A prime example of the latter came last July 1, when another retail chain, Macy’s, announced it would no longer sell Donald Trump’s clothing line of business suits, shirts, neckties and cuff links. Macy’s did so after coming under intense (and largely unopposed) pressure from the left to cut ties with the billionaire businessman after he characterized illegal immigrants from Mexico and the rest of Central and South America as drug dealers and rapists in a June 16 speech announcing his presidential candidacy.
Say what you will about Trump, but he’s not one to run away from a fight. Trump didn’t back down, and neither should we.
Macy’s capitulation to bullying by MoveOn.org, which collected more than 700,000 signatures on its digital petition to the retail chain, only encouraged the left to … well, move on. Left-wing activists using the predominantly liberal Change.org petitioning platform are now petitioning Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com, to follow Macy’s lead and banish all Trump-related merchandise from the Web’s largest retail site.
All of this demands a consistent countervailing force on the right, and the AFA’s pushback against Target demonstrates how it’s done.
Enter StandUnited.org. Using this uniquely conservative petitioning platform, activists are pushing back with a petition of their own, urging Bezos not to buckle. Signatories cite free markets and free-speech rights as reasons for keeping Trump merchandise available to those who wish to buy it.
It’s important to understand that left-wing petition activists are essentially cyber-bullies who attack anyone who disagrees with them, impugning their motives and character. When stood up to, they resort to name-calling, branding opponents “haters,” “bigots” and worse — and that all too often causes those on the right to stand down.
That’s the wrong response, however, because the only thing bullies understand is an equally tough (or tougher) counterpunch, not unlike the knockout blows long-suffering Tommy finally delivers to the dastardly Gatlin boys in the Kenny Rogers ballad “Coward of the County.” It turns these cyber-bullies into cry-bullies.
At the same time, though, the best defense remains a strong offense, and StandUnited petitioners also have gone on offense, successfully calling on Congress to repeal Obamacare’s Medical Device Tax. Another petition helped to save a Confederate War Memorial in Portsmouth, Virginia, from politically correct historical revisionists.
The platform has also been used to demand that new trade agreements protect American workers, to insist that Hillary Clinton turn over her private email server to investigators, to oppose federal Common Core intrusion into state and local education policy and to urge that the Keystone XL Pipeline be built.
When the left calls those of us on the right “reactionary,” they’re right — in a manner of speaking. We typically react to the agenda set by liberals. Conservatives need to be more proactive and instead set the agenda, and with StandUnited’s petitioning platform, they can.
Paul Van Remortel is the senior project manager at Intermarkets Inc., a privately held digital-media firm.