Donald Trump: President-elect, chairman and president of The Trump Organization, producer of the Apprentice, and apparently, spokesperson for conservative retail companies. After anti-Trump organization, #GrabYourWallet, called for the boycott of Maine-based outdoor equipment retailer, L.L.Bean, Trump turned to Twitter (as he is wont to do) and voiced his support for the company, urging his supporters to buy their goods: “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine.” To clarify, L.L.Bean, as a company does not support Trump (or any political candidate publicly for that matter) and it was Linda Bean, granddaughter and member of the company’s board of directors, who donated $60,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC (an illegal amount of money for an individual contribution, but that’s beside the point), not the company, itself.
Not only has this been a huge topic of discussion nationwide, but particularly in Maine, where L.L.Bean has special significance. However, I don’t think the discussion should be focused solely on whether or not anyone should be boycotting L.L.Bean. First, corporations, despite legal definitions, are not individuals and we probably shouldn’t judge the morality of an entire company based on the fact that one member of its leadership supported Trump. If we did that, pretty much every business would up for boycott. L.L.Bean provides jobs to 5,000 employees, donates extensively to outdoor education and conservationist programs, and has demonstrated concern for worker safety and labor rights. In other words, if we are going to be vilifying individual businesses, there are bigger fish to fry than L.L.Bean. What I’m more concerned about is the fact that our future president is promoting a business on his social media account. Like most advertising, it’s manipulative at its basest and in this case, downright inappropriate.
Like I said before, I’m not calling for the boycott of L.L.Bean. I honestly think it’s otiose in the grand scheme of our political climate. Even if L.L.Bean removed Linda from its board of directors, what would that really accomplish? However, I think it is unethical for a politician to be showing favoritism to a business simply because it potentially supports their agenda. What’s next, Trump tweeting at his followers to sign up for Jenny Craig’s weight loss program simply because she endorsed him? Our president should not be selling us products. In a society already saturated with consumerist propaganda, do we need to be further exploited by our government?