Some Home Depot shoppers are calling for a boycott of the retailer after billionaire co-founder Bernie Marcus pledged to donate to President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, reports Business Insider.
Marcus is an active supporter of Trump’s, contributing $7 million to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and $7.9 million to Republican candidates, committees, and PACs in the 2018 midterms (outspending any other Republican-endorsing private citizen in the latter election cycle), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In June, Marcus told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he will donate more of his vast wealth — estimated at $4.55 billion — to Trump’s reelection effort, saying of Trump’s presidency, “I would say that we are better off today than we were eight years ago or six years ago.”
The hashtag #BoycottHomeDepot picked up steam on Twitter on June 30, the same day the AJC story published and three days after Marcus appeared on Fox News to tell anchor Neil Cavuto, “Democrats, use your stupid brains. You don’t have any brains.”
Boycotters, reacting to one or both of Marcus’s press hits, vowed on Twitter to cut up their Home Depot cards and instead shop at competitors like Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, and Menards. Others took up the issue with one of Home Depot’s most visible advertisers: HGTV. Home Depot sells HGTV Magazine, runs ads on HGTV, and enters paid partnerships with HGTV, with the network running spots “brought to you by Home Depot” and promoting Home Depot’s online tools.
Home Depot, for its part, said it remains neutral amid the current brouhaha, despite its co-founder’s public statements and personal financial involvement in Trump’s reelection campaign. “Bernie retired from The Home Depot more than 15 years ago and isn’t speaking on behalf of the company,” said the retailer’s spokesperson in a statement to Vox. “In fact, as a standard practice, the company does not endorse Presidential candidates.”
In his recent interview with AJC, Marcus applauded Trump’s “businessman’s common sense approach to most things.” He did contend, however, that the president’s “communication sucks.”
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump lashed out at shoppers advocating a boycott of the home improvement chain. “More and more the Radical Left is using Commerce to hurt their ‘Enemy.’ They put out the name of a store, brand or company, and ask their so-called followers not to do business there.”
As Politico points out, however, Trump regularly calls on his followers to boycott businesses that run afoul of him, or of conservative aims. An abridged list of stores, brands, and companies (and at least one country) on the other end of Trump’s calls for boycotts over the past several years includes:
Just last month, Trump suggested on Twitter a boycott of AT&T as a means to put pressure on CNN, with which he’s nursed a longstanding feud. AT&T acquired CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, for $85 billion last year, and Trump’s calls to boycott AT&T are a new way for him to pile on an old foe and frequent subject of his ire. “I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN,” tweeted the president after a flight to the UK for a planned state visit in June. “It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News! Why wouldn’t they act.”
Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tweeted in response, as reported by the New York Times, “The President is on foreign soil advocating boycotting an American company because the press isn’t covering him favorably. Un-be-lievable.”
This week’s call to #BoycottHomeDepot is not the first ban organized by critics of Trump. Kicked off during the 2016 presidential campaign and inspired by Trump’s now-infamous “grab [women] by the pussy” conversation, the #GrabYourWallet movement encourages shoppers to boycott a host of companies for backing Trump, whether explicitly or implicitly.
That support could take many forms: Cited brands and individuals raised funds for Trump or Trump PACs, endorsed Trump, did business with the Trump family, were owned by Trump, worked with the National Rifle Association, or carried out anti-immigrant policies. Businesses have included Papa John’s, New Balance, L.L. Bean, HSN, Hobby Lobby, FedEx, Apple, Amazon, and Bank of America, among others. Last year, Business Insider reported that many sellers of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, from Macy’s and Bloomingdales to Zappos and Overstock.com, were removed from the #GrabYourWallet spreadsheet after Ivanka announced she’d discontinue her brand.
“Meanwhile, there’s a bizarro #GrabYourWallet bubbling on the other side of the aisle,” reported Racked in 2017 as MAGA proponents called for boycotts of Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx (incidentally, also recommended for boycott by #GrabYourWallet for carrying Ivanka’s brand, until the label shut down), Starbucks, celebrities, and others for speaking out against Trump, dropping Ivanka’s line, or championing initiatives that they do not support, from LGBTQ inclusivity to immigration rights. Dubbed TheRightBoycott by redditors, the list of brands posted by pro-Trump consumers recently expanded to include Oreo for issuing an LGBTQ-edition cookie, and Lyft for donating to US immigration foundations.
While it’s rarely clear what effect these boycotts have on bottom lines, they appear responsible, in part, for contributing to the growing conversation around corporations’ involvement in politics. According to its organizers, #GrabYourWallet has yielded several measures of success: It has received more than 1 billion views to date, seen over 40 companies part ways with the Trump family, and launched a successful campaign to remove conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from Twitter.
Home Depot, for its part, maintains more than 2,200 stores across the continent, is worth roughly $88 billion as of last year, and is no stranger to criticism. Current and former employees answered a call from Splinter News in 2018 to share what it’s like to work at Home Depot. In accounts published by Splinter in several installments, employees reported poor working conditions (extreme heat, back-breaking labor, overscheduling, timed bathroom breaks), paltry pay (with company policy prohibiting tips), sexual harassment, and anti-union culture, to name a few. When reached for comment, Home Depot did not address the Splinter News coverage on working conditions, or the Trump-related boycott.
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