Alex Blaze

Keep focused on the target, not Target

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 18, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Democrats, donation plea, HRC, Minnesota, MN Forward, MoveOn, repblican, Target, tom emmer

I like this as an ad. Go MoveOn.org:

Of course, I find this problematic in a few ways; that's after the jump. But I'm still glad that they're putting it out there. Don't try to negotiate with these businesses, because that's fruitless. Their interests are fundamentally opposed to the people's interests.

The left needs to do a better job conscripting the people, because, fundamentally, these issues are about them and people are always the left's greatest resource.

They expand the same issue beyond what HRC and LGBT activists are talking about: this isn't just a corporation donating to pols we don't like, but their participation in the political process that's in question. Still, they're asking Target (and none of the other half-dozen corporations that have donated to MN Forward) to stop. The problem isn't the corporations, since they're just doing what they're incentivized to do in the current system. The problem is the entire system - they have too much influence over our political system for a variety of reasons, and begging them to stop is going to be ineffective, especially since the reasons (in dollars) for participating in elections will always outweigh the reasons for not participating.

target_blank.jpgStill, I do have to say that I'm glad that both LGBT's and progressives generally have been using this as an opportunity to educate the public on how corporations are attempting to usurp their democratic power. While they may still be asking Target to stop, which will prove a fruitless endeavor in the long run if isn't coupled with an attempt to change the system itself, they aren't going down without a good fight. Too often leftists assume that good people agree with them implicitly and only bad people think they're wrong (so actually making an argument people can hear is pointless), but when presented with the facts in a convincing way people often turn out to be reasonable.

In related news, Target dropped out of negotiations with HRC:

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights organization, said Monday that Target has rejected calls to give an equal or greater donation to groups that support gay rights.

Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz said the organization will respond by giving $150,000 of its own money to help elect what the group calls "a pro-equality governor and legislature in Minnesota."

"All that we are asking is that a pro-equality set of issues and candidates be able to have $150,000 to support that set of issues," Sainz said.

First, I don't know why HRC was handling this as if they represent LGBT people everywhere - their ideology sure doesn't represent me and I know there are plenty of queer and trans people who don't feel represented by HRC. Considering that their goal was to get Target to donate to even more candidates instead of getting them to butt out of politics altogether, I can't say that I'm all that disappointed that they failed.

Moreover, Target was never going to donate to Tom Emmer's competitor because they're against Tom Emmer's competitor. They donated to Tom Emmer because they want him to win (and they want him to win for a variety of horrible reasons, but that makes sense: Target is run by generally horrible human beings). Target isn't "pro-equality," and they weren't "pro-equality" twenty years ago or ten years ago or a month ago. They're a corporation that's pro-profit and that's it. Everything else is just means to that end, and electing Tom Emmer is more valuable to them than the $150,000 they gave him or the possibility of electing a homophobe to office.

The only thing that we (as leftists, progressives, and/or queers) might get out of Target is for them to try to find the PR tool to get them out of responsibility for their donations in the future. Maybe they were searching for a local candidate who's anti-working class but pro-LGBT but didn't find such a person, who knows. Next time they'll know to explain themselves better in advance and follow advice PR consultants are developing to participate in politics without upsetting the peasants.

They'll also work on their preferred candidates to be less obvious. Take this exchange from a debate in Minnesota involving Emmer. He used to tell anyone who'd listen that he doesn't like the gays, but now:

During a debate on Twin Cities Public Television's Almanac on Friday evening, GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer dodged a question on whether Minnesotans should have a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The question was requested by an anti-same-sex marriage group, according to host TPT's Kathy Wurzer. Emmer has authored a bill for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota and has pushed against legislation that would give even a few rights to same-sex couples.

"As a citizen I have a view that is well known. As a governor, it's not going to be up to the governor. Whether it's somebody that says they have to oppose it, it's not up to the governor. It's up to the legislature," Emmer said. "And you know what, this election is not about those issues, this election is about the economy, and it's about jobs."

Wurzer interrupted Emmer, "But there are a lot of issues in a campaign..."

Emmer responded, "People are trying to distract us from what we have to do, which is get the economy..."

Wurzer interrupted again, "We spent the entire hour talking about the economy. Would you let voters... Do you think voters should vote on a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage?"

Emmer finished with, "That would be up to the legislature."

Perhaps he independently and coincidentally decided to hide his opinion on this subject just now, or perhaps his corporate donors got him to quiet down on the gay thing for now. That's not OK, but advocating poor people to be put out in the street or to cut spending on schools to give rich people tax cuts is just fine. People tend to care more about the homophobia more than they care about the whole "destroy the country in pursuit of a tax cut" thing.

Frankly, I find the fact that he's hiding his position even worse than his brazen homophobia before. He still believes the same things but he's now a more obvious corporate puppet. Honest homophobia, to me, is better than dishonest ambivalence.

Anyway, the goal here has to be reducing rich people's out-sized influence on politics, which is bigger than the types of donations allowed in Citizens United. Our system was corrupt before that decision was handed down and going back to 2009 levels of economic inequality isn't acceptable. We need to proactively educate people about their interests and how the system currently works to keep them muzzled and in line. Only then can we fashion a more equitable political system.


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I have been especially disappointed with HRC for their toothlessness in this matter. They wring their hands and say they can't do anything to change their rating, but at the very least they could remove Target from their "Buying for Equality" guide:

http://www.hrc.org/buyersguide2010/hrc_buyersguide_10.pdf

It's atrocious that Target and Best Buy are still advertised prominently on the HRC site, and Target uses the HRC's 100% rating on their own website to market how gay-friendly they are:

http://pressroom.target.com/pr/news/multicultural/diversity/2010-human-rights-score.aspx

HRC really needs to amend their rating system, or they will prove themselves to be completely irrelevant.

Alex said: The left needs to do a better job conscripting the people

con·script·ing transitive verb (kn-skrpt-ting):
To enroll compulsorily [by force] into service or cause.

Oh Alex your vision of "progress" is absolutely frightening. You desire not liberty or equality, but one centrally planned vision of an "equality defined by you or someone who shares your dystopian philosophy that in order to create harmony, the masses must be forced as if we are cattle and branded into compliance.

Fortunately, we have a history of dealing with those who design to enforce their views arbitrarily en masse.

A little birdie just told me that HRC recently conducted a focus group here in Indy and one of the lines of questioning was about Target. I'm getting more details and confirmations now.

infulleffect | August 19, 2010 8:46 PM

Alex,

Your visions of equality don't frighten me...keep spreading the good word!

I found a list online of the biggest lobbyists...

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18394.cfm

I don't know if I can submit this or not...but here it is.