I have a tough one for all of you with reasonable minds and conservative bents. The issue at hand is how to react to the seemingly unlimited iterations of protests and boycotts unleashed by the Left since life as they knew it changed during the early evening hours of Nov. 8.

First, a point of historical context. Boycotts are not new to politics; they are a primary tool for those seeking social change. History records that both sides utilized such weapons to great effect in the decades-running fight for civil rights. Segregationists wielded it as a punishment against those who advocated for integration. But it was Martin Luther King Jr. and the NAACP that turned these tactics into a truly effective strategy in the battle against those who refused to recognize basic civil rights for black Americans. In the process, a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, became “boycott central” for the civil rights movement.

Now fast forward to the Obama era. The election of Barack Obama gave rise to a multitude of boycott-involved campaigns — all of them checking one or more boxes on the progressive playlist. These included organized protests and/or boycotts of talk radio advertisers, the Koch brothers, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby — even a boycott of an entire state (North Carolina) for its adoption of a transgender bathroom bill.

Today, no venue is too small for the supposedly tolerant but now always aggrieved left. A case in point is Goldberg’s New York Bagels, a small kosher eatery located in deep blue Pikesville, Maryland. Goldberg’s owner, Stanley Drebin, saw a 15 percent loss in business once he expressed support for Donald Trump in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. In a familiar refrain, lefties used Facebook to call for a boycott.

More often than not, boycotts work (Chick-fil-A being an exception) as well-organized groups with serious economic firepower tend to carry the day. No surprise here: The party of community organizers really knows how to organize against free speech.

On the other side of the aisle, conservatives tend to focus on … position letters and white papers. The political right just doesn’t do boycotts very well — or often.

Think about it. Have you ever heard of a conservative boycott of San Francisco — Berkley — Harvard — an Elizabeth Warren speech — or the New York Times? Do riots break out at Liberty University when a liberal is invited to campus? Have you ever read of Young Republicans storming the office of a university president and demanding … an end to grade inflation or the elimination of campus “safe zones”?

But the Trump era has now arrived. And the question of how a conservative is to conduct himself in the age of Trump presents a unique challenge. Certainly frustration over Obama era political correctness and the unleashed energy of the deplorables has made many on the right edgy. They’re lookin’ for a fight – or maybe a boycott or two.

The internet age makes supporting information easily accessible. On the right, groups such as Second Vote rate corporations and organizations on the basis of their support for conservative-leaning positions, such as gun rights, immigration, religious liberty, etc. Similar websites exist on the Left and are targeted to usual suspects such as talk radio, Fox News, oil companies, the NRA and now, of course, L.L. Bean. But lefty boycotts are “dog bites man” – expected, so Obama era … not “new” news.

Which brings us back to the conservative’s dilemma. You could choose to target actors: (Sarandon, DiCaprio, Fonda), a Broadway play (Hamilton), your morning latte (Starbucks), your least favorite NFL quarterback (Kaepernick), or the best three-point shooter in the league (Curry), among thousands of other options. On the other hand, you might go with a positive option by doubling down on the people and businesses that support your views. This option could be fun – you could indulge that extra chicken sandwich, a Tom Brady football or attend as many Gary Sinise movies as humanly possible. In Pikesville, it would mean an extra dozen bagels from your favorite deli. (Goldberg’s has seen a recent uptick in orders from around the country(!) since calls for the boycott made national news.)

This (happy) option is even more attractive given the events of the past month. Think about it: You can “Eat mor chikin,” watch more Jon Voight movies, even listen to more Zac Brown songs, while your progressive “friends” carry angry signs, shout angry chants, march in angry parades, spread angry fake news and eat inferior bagels – and all because they didn’t get their way on Nov. 8.

The bottom line should be clear. Use your time and money to support the good guys. Feel the positive vibes rather than copy the left’s dated boycotts (okay, maybe make one exception for ole “Hanoi Jane” in honor of my U.S. Marine dad).

So, what about you? Which road will you take in response to the relentless shenanigans demonstrated daily and ad nauseam by progressive snowflakes on the other side?

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich is a Washington Examiner columnist, partner at King & Spalding and author of three books, including the recently released Turning Point. He was governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007.

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(2) comments


Interesting, you must be willfully ignorant or lying by neglecting all the tea party boycotts. It's never been a 'leftist' only tactic. What a fascinating dichotomy though. Railing against 'leftists' but supporting a President and administration that cozy up to the Russians. I bet your marine father would surely have something to say. Will you be another Conservative willing to sell America down the river because of your Power, Party then People ideology?


I hate to say this but we are sort of controlled by our finances. We shop at WalMart and Goodwill not because of their political views but because our dollar goes further there. And yes the writer of the letter is correct money talks. There is so much more someone can do. Volunteer! The animal shelter, political party headquarters, hospitals, rest homes, churches, just share. If you can't afford something volunteering your time and effort is a wonderful thing.

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