I have tremendous respect for everyone in the buy American community. Anyone willing to spend time promoting the practice of buying made in USA out of a hope for a better future of our country is aces in my book. I only wish we had more people willing to take the charge. But as buy American advocates, we need to be very cautious not to let the ugliness of politics seep into – and frankly, infect – our buy American message. Because every time it happens, another person who would be a new buy American advocate gets alienated.
Let’s face it, Americans are passionate about politics, and while 10-20% percent of Americans may be on the fence on Election Day, the other 80% are pretty firmly entrenched in one camp or the other. Those that do have strong political leanings generally do not like to hear or read about the political leaders and organizations they support being spoken about in a negative light. Nor do they typically like to hear about the leaders and groups they do not agree with spoken about in a favorable light (although favorable discussion of any kind is more tolerable). Discussing politics in any capacity simply has the potential to rub a lot of people the wrong way. It is unavoidable.
That is precisely why it is best not to mix messages about politics and buying American. The buy American message resonates with people of all different backgrounds and persuasions. Individual Americans choosing to buy American is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue. Buying American creates jobs and helps our economy. Anybody should be able to agree with that, and the overwhelming majority of Americans do. So why mix that buy American message that so many are receptive to with a political message that is certain to alienate many? If you genuinely want the buy American message to carry through, it’s just not a good idea to mix messages.
I believe one major reason that politics and buy American messages often get intertwined is that those who are passionate about buying American also tend to be fervent about politics, so it’s only natural for messages about the two subjects to get interconnected. Once again, I believe one must make every effort to keep these the two separate. The buy American movement needs to grow if it is ever going to be the force in this country that it could be. As advocates, we cannot afford to be turning away support because of politics creeping into our message.
Let me make one thing clear: I am not saying that buy American advocates should avoid being vocal about politics. Far from it. What I am saying is that as a buy American advocate, you should do your best not to mix political and buy American messages at the same time or in the same venue. What does that mean in practice? If you have a blog, website, or facebook page about buying American, don’t post political messages on there, and do your best to keep the political messages others post there to a minimum. Try to be sensitive to the fact that your buy American supporters may lean opposite you politically. If you want to talk politics, do it on a personal facebook page or on a separate blog. You get the picture.
My interest is the success of the buy American movement. We only have so many real leaders out there, and we will all have more success if we can stay focused on communicating our buy American message free of politics.
In a time of incredible political division in this country, buying American is one thing that still genuinely unites people of all different backgrounds and beliefs. Whether you identify as a Tea Partier or a labor activist, there is a good chance you support buying American. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area where you’ll find more common ground among staunchly opposed political groups and individuals.
The truth is, when it comes to buying American, politics doesn’t matter, so let’s not let it get in the way. Politics has ruined enough in this country; let’s not let it ruin our buy American movement as well.
Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.