Progressives Must Politicize Their Purchasing Power

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to run down to the nearest Foot Locker to buy the newest pair of Jordans—and I haven’t even worn a pair of sneakers since I was a teenager. I also can’t wait to log on to Fandango.com and order my tickets a month in advance.

I want to do so to spite the right-wingers who are freaking out over Nike’s embrace of civil rights activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as the content of the Universal Pictures film First Man, which is scheduled to be released October 12 in the United States. I don’t see why American progressives wouldn’t want to do the same.

It is nothing short of hilarious to bear witness to right-wingers rending their garments over Nike’s association with Kaepernick, who was clearly blacklisted from the NFL for his peaceful protest against police brutality. The right regards Kaepernick as an enemy of the people for daring to proclaim that there is inequality in this country, and urging Americans of conscience to stand up against such inequality. If the Trumpists had their way, a new House Un-American Activities Committee would be formed, and Kaepernick would be compelled to name the names of other NFL stars who share his radical and subversive view that black lives matter.

It doesn’t even dawn upon Nike’s critics that Kaepernick makes good business sense for the company. By embracing Kaepernick, Nike is saying that his values are universal and positive values; if Kaepernick represented negativity and evil, Nike would be risking its bottom line by aligning itself with him. From a certain perspective, Nike’s critics are anti-capitalist, attempting to second-guess a private company’s decision to make what it has determined to be a sound investment. Why do these folks hate the free market?

The same goes for the cooked-up controversy surrounding the content of First Man. I haven’t seen a Ryan Gosling movie in years, and yet I can’t wait to watch this Neil Armstrong biopic, which is being smeared for nonsense reasons. The implication that Gosling and director Damien Chazelle hate the United States is BS; I still remember when right-wingers made that allegation against the makers of Superman Returns in 2006, and it was just as nonsensical as the current smear campaign against Gosling and Chazelle.

The attacks on Nike and Universal are all the proof you need of the profound idiocy of the modern right—specifically the folks who actually think Nike and Universal are somehow being disrespectful or hateful, when in reality they’re making sound business decisions. This is nothing more than Adam Smith’s invisible hand giving wingnuts a backhand slap.

Turnabout is fair play. It always is. When right-wingers turned out in droves to see The Passion of the Christ in February 2004 and American Sniper during its national expansion in January 2015, they clearly did so to spite “secularists” and “leftists.” Why don’t progressives do the same? Imagine Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham having on-air nervous breakdowns if First Man has a massive opening weekend. Imagine Breitbart News having a case of the blues as Nike merchandise flies off the shelves.

Why shouldn’t progressives use their purchasing power to tick off the Trumpists? The power of the left’s dollar is monumental, and as the old saying goes, you can’t argue with success. When it comes to making the right choke on its own arrogance, the progressive mentality ought to be: just do it.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.