A boycott is a very bad idea

A BOYCOTT IS A VERY BAD IDEA…. I can appreciate why government intervention in support of General Motors is controversial. I can even understand why Republicans would hope to exploit the issue for short-term partisan gain.

But organizing a boycott of a struggling U.S. auto manufacturer, just to spite the nation’s elected leadership, seems like a spectacularly bad idea. Hugh Hewitt, for example, had this item the other day. (thanks to reader T.B.)

This is a decision that must be reversed. GM must be denationalized, the federal government divested of not just its controlling interest but all of its interest in the company. The Republican leadership must immediately and loudly demand the sale of the federal share in the company, even if it costs a large part of the $50 billion already invested. […]

In the effort to reverse this lurch beyond the farthest left fringe of previous Democratic statist urges, individual Americans have a role to play. They have to say no to GM products and services until such time as the denationalization occurs. This is a painful conclusion for those of us with friends still working for the company, and who had supported aggressive efforts to help the private company restructure.

But there isn’t any alternative, every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise.

It would be an exaggeration to say this is catching on, but as one prominent industry blog noted, “Hewitt is by no means alone. The boycott theme is quickly spreading across the conservative talk radio world, as well as on websites like the one operated by the rightist Washington Times.”

There’s no shortage of reasons to find these efforts bizarre, but the one that stands out is how backwards it is. The Obama administration intervened to prevent the collapse of a major American company, but its goal is to see GM get back on its feet and divest as quickly as possible. A boycott, organized by far-right activists, would work against Americans’ interests — it would undermine GM, exacerbate the company’s problems, and undercut taxpayers who obviously have a lot invested in this arrangement.

This isn’t complicated. If GM’s finances improve, the government can divest, American jobs will be saved, and taxpayers can get a return on their money. That would be a good thing.

There’s been debate in conservative circles over the last several months about whether, in the midst of multiple crises, it’s appropriate to root for failure. But it’s even more striking to see some conservatives trying to actively ensure failure, regardless of the consequences for the country.