“Goods Unite Us” Offers the People a Little More Power

By Susannah Abbey

There are a number of ways we Dems can support the people and causes we care about. We can donate money or time to campaigns, political or otherwise, we can write op-eds or letters to the editor. And, we can spend our money, or refrain from spending our money. Despite conservatives getting their knickers in a twist about ‘cancel culture,’ boycotts have been a legitimate means of political (and personal) expression for as long as people have been buying things. Conversely, we are free to put our dollars where we believe they will help, or at least do no harm, to our society and our values.

Goods Unite Us is a free web app that publishes information about the political spending habits of companies, stores, goods, even movies and television shows. It aims to steer consumers away from companies that make large political donations and “put an end to corporate political donations.” According to their web site, “the average consumer funds politicians and PACs about 3 times more through their purchasing choices than through direct political contributions.”

For most of us, who cannot donate thousands of dollars to specific PACs or candidates, and who don’t have a national platform for our thoughts, choosing how (and now not) to spend our limited resources is one of the few ways we have to express our beliefs. In this spirit, the application Goods Unite Us can be a helpful tool. Researchers look at ‘brands’—both parent companies and subsidiaries, and examine FEC political contribution data for both companies and their senior employees. Then, they assign each brand a “campaign finance score” so that a user can quickly assess how political it is. The higher the number, the smaller the political donations. For instance, Albertsons Supermarkets earned a score of 50 for its minimal contributions (mostly to Democrats), while Sprouts Farmers Markets earned a Campaign Finance Score of -60 because of their senior employees’ financial support of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.  And some brand scores may come as a surprise: Domino Sugar scores 100, while Santa Cruz organic (which makes peanut butter, applesauce and drinks) scores -71.  

Goods Unite Us has recently added a new list: companies that are helping COVID responders, either by supplying goods and services such as masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer, or those funding COVID research and donating to healthcare workers.

For more information, visit www.goodsuniteus.com.