Tea Partiers’ Next Target: American Business?

December 24, 2009 6:32 am

The end-all-regulation, my-health-insurance-company-is-just-fine-thanks crowd in the Tea Party movement have found an unlikely target for their next national effort: Corporate America.

The Tea Party Patriots group is planning a “National Day of Strike” for Jan. 20, one year to the day after President Obama’s inauguration. The goal of the strike, according to the website where it’s being planned, is to “financially cripple” the companies across America the group says are “backing the leftist agenda” and “funding socialism.”

How can you tell which companies are funding socialism? The answer, according to organizers: they advertise on CNN and/or MSNBC, and they donate money to Democratic candidates.Former Christian Coalition state legislative director and conservative political strategist Allen Hardage is organizing the effort. In his message calling on tea partiers to join the strike, he says he knows from experience that some corporations are sending a message to the left with their advertising dollars.

“Having spent the last 21 years working in advertising I can tell you that before someone take out an advertising plan on CNN, MSNBC etc, they know where they stand,” he writes. “Contrary to popular belief it’s not just about money, if it were MSNBC would have no advertisers.”

On Jan. 20, Hardage is calling on tea partiers to “expose” the socialist-supporting companies, and bombard them with phone calls, emails and protests to demand they stop advertising with “liberal” media outlets and contributing to Democratic campaigns. If they, don’t, the tea partiers will promise to boycott the firms into financial ruin.

It’s not clear how organized the strike movement is at this point. (An email to Hardage was not returned Dec. 24.) The plan was first announced Dec. 20, and on the strike website organizers say they have several thousand followers on various social networks. But the site says Hardage is still searching for regional directors and staff to orchestrate the scheme across the country.

Some conservatives are warning the tea partiers against the strike. On his blog, conservative law professor William Jacobson argues the plan is doomed to failure, based not least on the fact that conservatives could be alienating a potential ally when they take on the machinery of capitalism:

I completely sympathize with the emotion behind the idea. But the idea is a really bad idea for at least two reasons.

First, conservatives are not about boycotting commerce. We are about generating commerce and free enterprise. We also are about working hard, so taking the day off as a means of protest runs against our grain.

And just who is it that we would hurt? The small business people who are a critical part of our movement. A boycott of innocent businesses sends the wrong message, even if for only one day.

Jacobson says the second reason not to strike is found among the progressive groups who’ve tried boycotts in the past. He ticks off a list of boycotts against Glenn Beck advertisers, “Mormons and the state of Utah” and writes, “Not one of the boycotts worked, and these failures left the boycotters looking foolish and less powerful.”

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