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Boycott Season

Fall is rapidly approaching. As the summer heat begins, finally, to dissipate, the air is filled with a new scent. It's the smell of burning polyurethane, as thousands—possibly even dozens—of conservatives set their shoes on fire in protest of Nike's decision to feature social justice advocate and former quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a new ad. The protesters vowed never to buy Nike merchandise again. Even the president tweeted his displeasure, asserting the shoe manufacturer was "getting absolutely killed" from the negative publicity. As of this writing, a week later, Nike's stock price has recovered and the company is still in business.

But this was not the only politically-inspired tweet protest in recent days. After In-N-Out Burger gave $25,000 to the California Republican Party in late August, California Democratic Party leader Eric Bauman took to Twitter to call for a boycott of the burger chain. Bauman's movement fizzled literally overnight, after it was revealed that In-N-Out has been donating to both parties for several years. By the next morning, Bauman was in full damage-control mode, claiming he didn't mean a word he said. And perhaps he didn't; he is a politician, after all.

The biggest problem with boycotts in general is that they almost never accomplish their aims. In fact, they often do the exact opposite. The Nike boycott, for example, has already netted the shoe manufacturer an estimated $163 million worth of free advertising and boosted online sales by 31%.

But political boycotts carry an additional problem: These protests promote the notion that we ought not associate with people who don't share our ideologies. in a society that is becoming increasingly divided along political lines, this cannot lead to a good end.

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