It began when it dawned on me a favorite local retailer and I were on opposite sides of a social issue, and ended the night of Election Day, when I watched (on television) the co-founder of a business I’ve come rely on and trust growl about what America will become if his candidate, and not mine, was not elected. In between was plenty of advice, from readers and others, and for all of that I thank them.
Should I spend my money in places where owners take their profit and dedicate a portion of it to causes with which I oppose?
Well, no. In a society with a plurality of options, the true and lasting legacy of the ‘60s, I can and should patronize places attuned to my preferences. If the store owner throws his donor’s dollar — which is to say, money he got from me — at one side of a hot-button issue, and I’m on the other, why am I playing this game? Am I not supporting a mission with which I disagree?
Then again, yes. What the merchant does with his profit is no more business of mine than his interest in how I got the money to pay for that ice cream cone/pickup truck/box of nails. His only obligation to me is to provide what I want at a price I can handle, and maybe a warranty and a pleasant shopping experience, and anyway, he doesn’t ask about my personal choices and I don’t tell.
So I batted this dilemma around for, well, a lot of my life, and after I first broached the issue in print a number of readers offered advice (split right down the middle, incidentally), but my decision came down to seeing the co-founder (that’s how the graphic read) of Home Depot, railing on Fox News about the crucial importance of his candidate winning the presidential election.