John Mackey - the founder, CEO and marketing genius behind Whole Foods - finds himself in an organic, unsustainable mess with his carefully cultivated affluent, liberal customer base after penning an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.”
For starters, Mr. Mackey opens with a line from known-liberal-allergen Margaret Thatcher that features the dreaded “S” word: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Then he goes on to provide eight sensible free-market solutions gleaned from his company’s well-regarded employee health care program.
Mr. Mackey, a free-market libertarian, is now at the mercy of an unforgiving grass-roots mob intent on destroying his company. More than 25,000 people have signed on to a Whole Foods boycott on Facebook.
“Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives,” the online petition reads. “Let them know your money will no longer go to support Whole Foods’ anti-union, anti-health insurance reform, right-wing activities.”
A complementary Web site, WholeBoycott.com, features unintentionally comical video testimonials from aggrieved former customers. The mainstream media have picked up on the story and fanned the flames.
The success of Whole Foods is largely built on Mr. Mackey’s understanding of the liberal mind. It wants the good life - but with instant absolution for the sin of conspicuous consumption. Whole Foods is marketing at its best. Iconography and slogans throughout the store - not unlike those Barack Obama used to win the presidency - tell the shopper they are saving the planet in large and small ways.
The product is so good even conservatives and skeptics are willing to play along.
But Mr. Mackey missed the key ingredient of modern liberalism: intolerance to the ideas of nonliberals. And this miscalculation may prove to be devastating to his multibillion-dollar business.
Everywhere one looks these days, the intolerance of self-avowed liberals is on display. Especially since Mr. Obama came to power.
The purportedly open-minded and empathic among us who now run everything - save for NASCAR and Nashville - openly wage war against those who dare disagree.
Witness Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi’s joint-penned editorial in USA Today in which the House’s two top Democrats describe those publicly questioning Mr. Obama’s proposed health care system overhaul as “un-American.”
One need not go back too far in the political time machine to recall a time when the same people were claiming that the term “un-American” was being tossed at liberals for opposing the Iraq war, and that Republicans were stifling free speech.
Examples were rarely, if ever, given. It just was. And we were told this was a very, very bad thing.
The Dixie Chicks brilliantly used this sob line to become a Rolling Stone magazine cover staple, a blue-state crossover and an international cause celebre. A chorus line of would-be liberal celebrity martyrs took a similar marketing tack proclaiming McCarthyism was again afoot - as conservative Hollywood kept its collective mouth shut knowing that support for President Bush or the war was an instant career-killer.
Yet amid the cries of “dissent is patriotic” - a phrase seen on the bumper stickers of cars in the Whole Foods parking lot - the antiwar movement grew and grew, unfettered by the war’s supporters or by the party in power.
As the Hollywood Left churned out antiwar film screeds, it was creating a narrative of its victimhood as it victimized Mr. Bush and his administration with the false accusation that dissenters were being persecuted. But now that they are in power, Democrats are brazenly wielding punitive weaponry against dissenting Americans and are using the power of the state to shut up citizens.
The Democratic leadership - and its friends in the mainstream media - seem determined to brand opposition to the president’s legislative agenda as illegitimate, even racist in origin. Individuals and grass-roots organizations are helping the statists’ cause by advocating boycotts and other means of stifling dissent.
The strategy is clear: Intimidate people from speaking up or from attending public protests by telegraphing that anyone can be made a demon for standing up and exercising basic, constitutional rights.
To call these people hypocrites would be a grave insult to those who fail to live up to their own standards. Liberalism has never been about establishing a universal standard. Liberalism is simply intellectual cover for those wanting to gain political power and increase the size of the state.
For free-speech principles to be reinforced and free-market ideas to win the day, more people are going to have to stand up and be heard.
Mrs. Pelosi and the Whole Foods boycotters are on the wrong side of history.
The way to stand up to them is to go to “tea parties,” raise a ruckus at health care debates and - buy organic garlic, herb fresh goat cheese and three-bean salad with quinoa at your local Whole Foods store.
This time, you really could be saving the planet.
• Andrew Breitbart is publisher of the news portals Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv. His latest endeavor, Big Hollywood (https://bighollywood.breitbart.com), is a group blog on Hollywood and politics from the center-right perspective.