How I learned to stop worrying and love the politicization of shopping

Boycotting isn’t a zero-sum game of consumer hardball; it’s a harmless expression of identity. We talk a big game of outrage, but we’re not exactly depriving ourselves of anything when we engage in political boycotting. In fact, the term “boycott,” evoking as it does the refusal to buy something, should probably be retired. Because of the choices available to us, Americans today often make affirmative choices with our wallets and eyeballs.

Consider the emergence of Chic-fil-A as a distinctly Christian fast-food alternative in the Obama era. But no one is giving up much of anything by boycotting Chic-fil-A. We’re all familiar with those highway signs pointing to the assortment of lodging and restaurant options no more than a mile-and-a-half up the road. If you’re opposed to same-sex marriage and enjoy the soothing sounds of instrumental praise-and-worship music, Chic-fil-A is your best bet. If not, then there’s McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Arby’s, KFC, and on and on and on..

There is emotional satisfaction to be derived in eating at Chic-fil-A — as well as in driving past Chic-fil-A and saying, “I refuse to support them with my business.” But let’s not be fooled: If you’re in the latter group, you’re really not giving up anything.