Whether it’s buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a pair of shoes from Ivanka Trump’s line, people are choosing to demonstrate their politics with their wallets. As they should, says columnist Nicole Brodeur.
I pulled the shoes out of my closet and held them up by two hooked fingers, like a bra that had been tossed into my yard from a passing car, then rained on.
They were no longer the strappy heels that I had paid a little too much for at Nordstrom and wore to my niece’s wedding last spring.
They were now a political statement. They had Ivanka Trump’s name across the inside. And I wanted them out.
These shoes were now a statement of support, a vote I step into and wear all day. They’re money in the pockets of people I don’t care to finance any more than I do as a taxpayer. And so into the Goodwill box they went.
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The retail revolution has been revived, and in a big way. If you want to get back at a billionaire who treats the Oval Office like it’s a QVC studio, well, you can wear a pink hat and keep protest signs in the trunk of your car.
But if you really want President Donald Trump to listen, you have to let your money talk.
On February 2, Nordstrom announced it was dropping the first daughter’s line of clothing and accessories because of poor sales.
The president came out swinging on Twitter, as if the Nordstrom boys had upended her table of cupcakes at the school bake sale.
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom,” he tweeted. “She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
In truth, though, Nordstrom had done the right thing by Ms. Trump, informing her of their decision early last month.
In an immediate show of support for the store — and with symbolic fistfuls of dollars — people poured into Nordstrom stores, restaurants and its website with a new purpose. By the end of the day, the company’s stock rose by 4 percent. (It rose another three percent the next day).
It was the same with Starbucks a couple of weeks back. When Trump signed an executive order to ban people entering the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz committed to hiring 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years, prioritizing those who had supported U.S. military personnel overseas.
Right away, the lines for coffee got a little longer. More than a few people posted pictures of freshly purchased pounds of Starbucks coffee. Message received.
Trump supporters retaliated in both cases.
Some called for a Starbucks boycott, saying that the company should hire only Americans, and specifically veterans, which Schultz already pledged to do in 2013.
The day after the Nordstrom decision, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway went on “Fox & Friends” to shill for the boss’s daughter.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” she told viewers from the White House briefing room. (There’s another spot that will need to be scrubbed down with Clorox.)
It was an action for which the top Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight Reform Committee have called for a review by the federal government’s chief ethics official. Hopefully, Conway’s formidable maw will be put on indefinite lockdown.
It might put an end to the White House being used as a marketing tool for all things Trump, something that started even before Inauguration Day. The morning after a “60 Minutes” interview with the president-elect and his family, fashion journalists were alerted to a $10,800 bangle Ivanka Trump wore on camera.
The other week, we learned through a defamation lawsuit that first lady Melania Trump had plans to use this “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories.”
Think Michelle Obama exercise clothing. Or garden gloves. Then stop.
“Why not?” one friend asked. First ladies have historically been scrutinized for their fashion before anything else, and designers have benefitted from the exposure. Why not let Melania Trump take control of the situation?
Well, because she would be profiting on her role as first lady. These aren’t little cakes named after Dolly Madison. This would be a business, an income, built upon an active role in public service. It’s not an “opportunity.” It’s an honor.
But what do I know? Go ahead. Call Mrs. Trump’s line “Green Acres,” in honor of another Eastern European beauty married to a rich man who didn’t want to leave her penthouse to do hard, country-centered work. (“Donald, I like you, but give me Park Avenue.”)
At least then we might get a laugh out of it.
Oh, I miss the dignity. I miss the speeches that sounded like oratory. I miss full sentences. I miss feeling like the leader of our country is trying to serve all of our interests, and not, first and foremost, the business interests of his family.
He’s not leading. He’s selling. And we still don’t have the tax records to see whether he paid his due.
So what do we do? Keep protesting with our pocketbooks. It’s one of the few things that gets Trump’s attention.
That, and a woman in strappy heels.