Jesse Jackson isn't the only activist that can use corporate boycotts for political purposes. Starting next year, the huge Tea Party organizer FreedomWorks will urge supporters to punish huge corporations like General Electric and Johnson and Johnson for backing President Obama's progressive agenda.
In an exclusive review for Whispers of their plan, FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe says: "Tea Party activists are willing to tackle progressive CEOs just as they tackled progressive politicians. Judging by the results of the midterm elections, progressive CEOs should buckle up, because Tea Party activists are going to give them a very bumpy ride."
His project partner, Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, added: "Big businesses are now on notice that there is a measurable business risk for actively supporting the Obama, Reid, and Pelosi progressive public policy agenda."
Their initial focus will be on consumer firms that lobbied for passage of Obama's agenda items that helped their firms. "We are going after the rent-seeking corporations feeding at the public trough," said FreedomWorks' spokesman Adam Brandon.
The groups released a new Wilson Research Strategies poll to Whispers which shows how companies could suffer when conservatives are told of their support for Obama's agenda. The poll found that when customers are told of a consumer product firm's support for healthcare reform, bailouts, cap-and-trade energy policies or other issues pushed by the administration, their favorability among conservatives plummets.
A few examples:
-- General Electric. The firm has a 51 percent favorable image, but when poll takers were told of it's support for the Obama economic stimulus plan, only 20 percent had a favorably impression of the consumer giant.
-- Johnson and Johnson. Nearly 69 percent had a favorable impression of the health company before Johnson and Johnson's support for health reform legislation was detailed to survey-takers. Afterward, that favorability dropped to 16 percent.
The poll also found that 81 percent of conservative voters active in the Tea Party would be "less likely to buy products from companies that actively lobbied to pass Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan," and 61 percent would blog, Facebook, or upload a YouTube video urging backers to boycott their products.
FreedomWorks and the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project will first start by releasing the poll on Tuesday. It will then urge bloggers and other activists to spread the news about how companies lobbied for Obama's agenda. And soon after look for the groups to list the ties of major firms to the Democrats and progressives. "To break up this unholy alliance between government and business, we have to shine a light on it," says Kibbe. "This is a next step in a series of battles," adds Borelli.
Consumer boycotts by activists such as Jesse Jackson have a long record of success. But a Tea Party boycott could be bigger and impact the political world in Washington where corporations are generally viewed as supporting Republicans. "For too long, big business elites have leveraged their special interest group politics to profit from the size and growth of government. The poll demonstrates that the days of easy money through back room deals are over," says Kibbe.