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Email Like a lot of dads, Fred Guttenberg loved to take his kids camping. With his son, Jesse, and his daughter, Jaime, Guttenberg camped at parks all over the state of Florida. But something else happened that day. Stack is a navy-suited business type, but when he appeared on TV he sounded more like an activist.
He spoke in simple terms. What at first seemed like a fad or a marketing ploy has morphed into a new way of living, shopping, and politicking in America.
Forget the culture wars. Now we fight the commerce wars. America has a long tradition of gaining social leverage through economic pressure, including consumer boycotts, corporate lobbying, and high-profile endorsements. But in the age of Trump, companies are adopting a wide variety of public stances.
After the Parkland shooting, for example, over 20, REI customers signed a petition calling for the co-op to stop carrying products made by Vista Outdoor brands.
Vista is the Utah-based parent company of CamelBak and Giro, but its real moneymaker is ammunition. REI responded by placing a hold on Vista orders. The statement hinted that members should let Yeti know how they felt about that. Yeti pointed out that it had ended discounts for a number of organizations.
Businesses and CEOs often adopt a proud tone when addressing political topics, even if the issues fall outside their industries. Consider Target. He punted. Why risk boycotts and blown-up coolers? Over the past few years, a series of polls by the research firm Global Strategy Group asked participants whether corporations should stand up for their political beliefs.
In , only 44 percent believed that they should.
In , that number jumped to Twice a year, Brand Keys compiles its Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which surveys more than 50, respondents to calculate the reputations of national brands.
Anything close to is a great score; under 70 suggests trouble ahead. Before the bathroom controversy, Target was at In the weeks after, it plunged to Two years later, the company is stuck at Growing up, Edward helped around the store.
He never left. When Richard retired in , Edward took over running the business, and he expanded it into a retail empire. It was a good time for that kind of ambition.
The company expanded quickly, from 12 locations in , the year it moved its headquarters to suburban Pittsburgh, to in , the year it went public. But today everything about the retailer—from the huge selection to the wide aisles to the dad rock playing over the store speakers—suggests a desire to please a broad national audience.
On quarterly earnings calls, during which Stack spoke with investors and analysts, he discussed gun sales frequently and fluently: how they drove foot traffic, how they bolstered earnings, how they fluctuated depending on the news.
After all, his business was growing in part due to firearms owners who worried that President Obama would push through new gun-control measures. They stockpiled firearms and ammunition—what Stack called panic buying. Field and Stream is not associated with the magazine of the same name.
Stack was rumored to be considering his own Republican bid for the U. Senate in Stack makes a surprising gun-control advocate. There were many reasons for this, but a big one was that the entire gun industry was in trouble—mainly because the election of Donald Trump had curbed panic buying.
The dozens of Field and Stream stores that Stack had opened by that time were looking like a terrible bet. Three months later, Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas.
At company headquarters, Stack later told Good Morning America, everyone agreed that it was time to amend store policy. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in , it quietly announced that it would suspend sales of assault-style rifles.
The rifles remained in stores. Partisan identity —Republican versus Democrat, us versus them—has become the most powerful and distorting force in politics.
Polling from nonpartisan outlets like Gallup and the Pew Research Center paints a clear picture : while Republicans are more tribal and more ideologically cocooned than Democrats, these traits warp both parties, probably because they warp all of humanity.
Study after study shows that partisan identity can overpower evidence, ideas, and reason—and that being informed can actually make things worse.
You know where you belong. The gun issue is a good example. The NRA has spent decades cultivating passionate, single-issue voters—the panic buyers. And it has successfully linked ownership of firearms to Republican identity. For 25 years, the Pew Research Center has been asking a simple question : Which do you think is more important—to protect the right of Americans to own guns, or to control gun ownership?
Republicans used to be divided on this, even during the debate around the Clinton-era band ban on assault-style rifles. That ban expired in As late as , near the end of George W.
After Obama was elected, though, the party went full NRA. The latest numbers, from , show that 79 percent of Republicans believe gun rights matter more than gun control, and that same pro-gun slant crops up in other data. The number of Republicans who believe that having a gun in the home makes it safer has nearly doubled since , even though gun ownership has barely budged.