Think before you buy

Tilly Friedlander

The President assigned his eldest son Donald Jr. and Trump Organization’s chief, Allen Weisselberg to be in charge of his assets. However, President Trump can still receive reports on the profits of his assets and can revoke the authority of his son and Weisselberg at any time. Many have called upon the President to sell his assets, but he has refused to do so. Trump claims that he has detached himself from the business world. Documents of his trust structure seem to reflect this, but experts in government ethics, such as attorney Frederick Tansill, continue to call the president’s connections to business a conflict of interest.

At this point, Trump continues to profit on the job and disregards the many Americans who’ve expressed their concern. With that in mind, it is vital that Americans continue to express their beliefs using a different route: boycotting Trump merchandise. So, if you think that President Trump’s ties to his businesses are unethical, don’t just complain: do something about it. Join thousands of people that share the same frustration by refusing to purchase products that put money into the pockets of the Trump administration.

With a new and unpopular president, who has an approval rating of only 39 percent, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many Americans have decided to boycott any businesses that carry Trump merchandise or endorse him in any way. Since the President is still tied to businesses connected with the Trump brand, boycotts of these stores can affect the President financially and hopefully send the message that this conflict of interest is unacceptable.

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According to Jessica Levinson, a law professor and political analyst at Loyola Marymount University’s law school, a growth in political activism has been seen in the past few weeks through people “voting with their Visas.”

Spreading the message with the trending Twitter hashtag #grabyourwallet, Americans expressed their concerns with the new President by boycotting his daughter’s shoe line, fashion jewelry and baby bedding which are carried by companies such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Amazon.

In American history, there have been many effective boycotts that have made a difference and achieved their intended outcome. In New Orleans in 1960 when none of the white-owned businesses would hire black people, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) boycotted these businesses on the main shopping street. Several months later the businesses recanted from their segregationist policies. In addition, when California workers from the National Farmworkers Association who picked green grapes in 1964 were receiving unfair wages and working under awful conditions, Cesar Chavez led a similarly effective boycott. The workers were given higher wages and their conditions improved six years later. Through these protests, their intended results were achieved and the same can happen today if Americans are persistent and stand against the President’s wrongdoings.

Of course when the intended result is not justified properly, boycotts can certainly be ineffective. Take Trump supporters trying to boycott the Star Wars movie “Rogue One” last December for having a “Liberal message” as an example. The boycott likely resulted in a few hundred people deciding not to see the movie. Sure, the movie may have lost some money, but this boycott didn’t send the intended message as Star Wars “Rogue One” still made $155 million and movies continue to have the Liberal message.

On the other hand, according to Bay Area marketing professional Shannon Coulter who started the hashtag #grabyourwallet, hundreds of thousands of citizens are expressing concern over their President by boycotting businesses connected to his name. In this case, I think it’s fair to say that the protesters’ voices will be heard. Because the boycotts can actually hurt the President economically, the consumers can let Trump know that they do not agree with his actions.

Just last month, Nordstrom stopped carrying Ivanka Trump’s shoe line. Although Nordstrom stated that the line was simply not selling well, it can be inferred that this decision is in part due to the four months boycott of the brand, causing the shoes to do poorly.

After the company stopped selling Trump’s shoe line, the president tweeted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great personalways pushing me to do that right thing! Terrible!” By stating that Nordstrom is “terrible” for dropping Ivanka’s line, the President is using Twitter to try and promote his own daughter’s career and that is a conflict of interest in itself. If the fact that the President is tweeting about a department store that is simply trying to be profitable does not spark concern, then hear this: Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s counselor, responded to Nordstrom by urging customers on Fox News to buy Ivanka’s shoes as a “free commercial.” That’s a little worrying. Okay, a lot more than a little, because it has the potential to be an ethics violation, meaning that the President and his administration is using their power to profit.

Critics have expressed numerous concerns over both Trump and Conway responses to Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying Ivanka’s line. Elijah Cummings from the Office of Government Ethics flat out said that the actions of Conway were wrong and violate federal ethics rules. As the President has only been in office since Jan. 20, I can’t help but worry that incidents such as these will only prevail for as long as he continues to hold such strong ties to his corporations.

It is imperative that Trump understands that his connections in business create serious conflicts of interest and that he divests from his businesses. If people do not voice their concern through boycotting and continue to support the Trump brand financially, then a precedent that it is okay to have a President who is profiting on the job will be set. It’s bad enough that a billionaire businessman with no political experience is leading our country’s government, but the fact that he is also still benefitting from his previous profession is frankly discomforting. According to a study from the American Economic Association, Trump could easily make billions during his presidency. I, for one, think that profiting while being our President at the same time is cheating the system.

The boycotts have shown students that you don’t need to be 18 to voice your opinion about the President’s wrongdoings. So, if you share the same sentiments that I do then join Coulter and the thousands of Americans in boycotting the stores that sell Trump merchandise. Find places to shop at instead of these and put your money into businesses that embody your own beliefs. Take a stand for what is right.