Political Patronage

Posted: November 18, 2012 in Consumerism, Corporatism, Economics, Politics
Tags: ,

I was sent an e-mail message that presumes spending habits can or should be political statements directed to companies we patronize based on those companies’ own political patronage. My guess is that data on corporate political contributions were culled from the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs a website at www.opensecrets.org. The reason why that’s a guess is that when I tried to locate the underlying data shown below (I reformatted a bit), I couldn’t find it in a handy report already formatted and presumably vetted. I did, however, find several websites (such as here, here, here, and here) that repeat the data without comment while being heavily politicized. The date of origin is also up for grabs, as the earliest appeared in August, well before the election cycle was completed.

I find it curious that, other than Seagrams in the middle and Heinz at the bottom of the table, corporations are lopsided in their support of candidates from one party or the other (still only two parties worth considering), essentially cancelling each other out in aggregate. Of course, neither party has been inhospitable toward business interests, both parties in turn promoting corporate profit over the general welfare because, well, that’s where the money is. It’s also true that patronage by the public is mostly a wash, considering how the Rep./Dem. ratio is roughly 50/50, at least if one believes the polls. The entire notion that politics can be moved in one direction or another with either our votes or donations or spending seems to me addle-brained. I’m not so naïve as to think that large contributors don’t in fact get some bang for their buck with respect to specific legislation, permits, waivers, tax rebates, policies, or other consideration (e.g., women’s reproductive rights will fare far better under Democrats than Republicans), but the macrocosm remains largely unaltered, the two parties being nearly indistinguishable in how they curry corporate favor.

Writers at two blogs on my blogroll have weighed in on the futility of voting/donating/shopping as political expression, especially in the Citizens United era: Paula at Mythodrome and Leavergirl at Leaving Babylon. Both offer valuable insights unaffected by the usual spin cycles that drain all truth and relevance from politics. They’re real people, not political hacks or lobbyists, willing to admit that the blind faith necessary to cling to voting as meaningful political activity is no longer evidenced in outcomes. Indeed, I have long since concluded that politics is now predominantly a marketing effort, with candidates running perpetual campaigns either to get/stay elected or to burnish their reputations/legacies on the way out of office. Effective governance is an afterthought, despite charitable perception. Wanna see the marketing effort trumping reality? Wade into this website and see if there is anything useful, as opposed to paragraph after paragraph crafted to ensure no one will read or care what’s there.

At any rate, here’s the information showing where some political patronage was aimed.

AMERICANS CAN NOW DETERMINE WHERE TO SHOP AND SPEND THEIR MONEY

Election Cycle Political Donations, as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Shopping

Price Club/Costco

donated $225K

99% went to Democrats

Rite Aid

donated $517K

60% went to Democrats

Magla Products (Stanley Tools, Mr. Clean)

donated $22K

100% went to Democrats

Warnaco (undergarments)

donated $55K

73% went to Democrats

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

donated $153K

99% went to Democrats

Estee Lauder

donated $448K

95% went to Democrats

Guess, Inc.

donated $145K

98% went to Democrats

Calvin Klein

donated $78K

100% went to Democrats

Liz Claiborne, Inc.

donated $34K

97% went to Democrats

Levi Straus

donated $26K

97% went to Democrats

Olan Mills

donated $175K

99% went to Democrats

WalMart

donated $467K

97% went to Republicans

K-Mart

donated $524K

86% went to Republicans

Home Depot

donated $298K

89% went to Republicans

Target

donated $226K

70% went to Republicans

Circuit City Stores

donated $261K

95% went to Republicans

3M Co.

donated $281K

87% went to Republicans

Hallmark Cards

donated $319K

92% went to Republicans

Amway

donated $391K

100% Republicans

Kohler Co. (plumbing fixtures) donated

donated $283K

100% Republicans

B.F. Goodrich (tires)

donated $215K

97% went to Republicans

Proctor & Gamble

donated $243K

79% went to Republicans

Spirits

Southern Wine & Spirits

donated $213K

73% went to Democrats

Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons

donated $2M+

67% went to Democrats

Gallo Winery

donated $337K

95% went to Democrats

Coors & Budweiser

donated $174K

92% went to Republicans

Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel Wines, Lenox China , Dansk and Gorham Silver)

donated $644 K

80% went to Republicans

Hungry?

Sonic Corporation

donated $83K

98% went to Democrats

Triarc Companies (Arby’s, T.J. Cinnamon’s, Pasta Connections)

donated $112K

96% went to Democrats

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (chicken)

donated $366K

100% went to Republicans

Outback Steakhouse

donated $641K

95% went to Republicans

Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)

donated $133K

87% went to Republicans

Brinker International (Maggiano’s, Brinker Cafe, Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Crazymel’s, Corner Baker, EatZis)

donated $242K

83% went to Republicans

Waffle House

donated $279K

100% went to Republicans

McDonald’s Corp.

donated $197K

86% went to Republicans

Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze)

donated $121K

89% went to Republicans

Heinz (John Kerry’s wife’s company!!!)

Republicans $64,000 Democrats $21,300

Traveling and/or Dining

Hyatt Corporation

donated $187K

80% went to Democrats

Marriott International

donated $323K

81% went to Republicans

Holiday Inns

donated $38K

71% went to Republicans

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Comments
  1. Ivy Mike says:

    RE: Mr. Kerry’s Heinz Heiress

    La donna è mobile. (Woman is flighty/fickle.)
    wikipedia.org/wiki/La_donna_è_mobile

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