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Collins: The power for change is in your purse

Jessica Collins, Op-Ed Contributor

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President Donald Trump is a successful businessman. Or rather, he has managed to persuade the electorate that his business acumen uniquely qualifies him for the American presidency. If this is the case, and America has come to equate wealth with success, how do make our voices heard in capitalist politics?

Protesting is one way of showing dissatisfaction with our political and economic system. However, individual purchasing power can also be used to effect real change. We can show that hate does not pay by hitting businessmen like Trump where it hurts most. And we should consider a complete boycott of Trump business, affiliates and those that share his values.

As students, we might already be making politically- or environmentally-conscious purchasing choices, such as buying fair trade, organic or cruelty-free products. These are decisions based on our personal values, but now it’s time to extend our conscious consumption directly toward Trump.

Efforts to boycott Trump have already been successful in removing Ivanka Trump’s shoe designs from stores. After all, if people won’t buy a product, businesses won’t sell it. A boycott could have a real impact on business transactions and hit both Trump’s bottom line and brand name.

What does this mean? If you want to weaken Trump, don’t watch the new Apprentice. Don’t buy Ivanka’s clothes. Don’t stay at Trump hotels or play on Trump’s golf courses. This seems pretty straightforward, but to expand our impact beyond the immediate Trump empire requires consumers digging a little deeper and making tough choices.

As college students, most of us probably buy either the cheapest products available, those effectively advertised or those attached to brand names that we trust. For example, I like Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, because I enjoyed the cartoon mascot of Tony the Tiger as a kid. But my appreciation for the brand increased in the days after the election when Kellogg’s chose to remove their advertising from Breitbart’s website. Kellogg cited the values of Breitbart, a publication known for their dogged support of Trump, as the reason for its withdrawal. I can therefore eat my Frosties safely, knowing I am not funding a media company that supports a xenophobic and sexist president. But many other businesses are owned by individuals whose political agendas may be less inclusive.
For example, Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts supported Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. As a Cubs fan, I found this news troubling. However, to successfully weaken Trump’s brand, we must be willing to sacrifice our loyalties.

Some cases aren’t so clear. Amazon has drawn ire from some for refusing to pull Trump products from its website despite petitions from consumers. But at the same time, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famously anti-Trump and also owns the Washington Post. Protesting Trumpism will become a matter of individual choice in most situations.

Still, this election demonstrates that our most powerful tools of protest are our wallets. By spending our money in a manner consistent with our beliefs, we can resist funding organizations that support elitist politicians who target the most marginalized groups in the country. In this way, even seemingly small acts can potentially change the system.

If you choose to boycott Trump and his associates’ products, the decisions you make will send him a clear message. We must show him that companies that fund politicians who preach hate will not be profitable.

Jessica Collins is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at JessicaCollins2019@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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