I have been trying for the past 48 hours or so to figure out why the narrative about Target’s $150,000 donation to MN Forward, which has gone to the campaign of Tom Emmer, has focused entirely on Emmer’s anti-LGBT position and his association with a “Christian” band whose lead singer was advocated violence against LGBT people.
I know that the story was broken by the Advocate, and has since been picked up with a dedicated blog and a mention on the Gay Rights blog on Change.Org. But as I commented (without notice) on the Change.org entry, Emmer is a regressive nightmare across the board. Starting with the matter which is at the top of my list: Emmer is extremely anti-choice, with the endorsement of MN’s anti-choice lobby. He supports “conscience clause” laws that would allow pharmacists to refuse to provide contraceptives to women. Strictly on the issue of Target’s involvement, women make up the bulk of Target customers, and Target’s advertising is geared largely toward us. We are courted heavily by Target, and yet they’re supporting a candidate who wishes to deny women our basic constitutional rights. This is something that we should be a part of the conversation. But Target’s cynical decision to sell women down the river in the name of Tom Emmer’s “pro-business” policies is completely off the radar.
Emmer is a guy who’s never met a progressive idea that he couldn’t stand in complete and diametric opposition to. To give just a quick list of things he supports:
- An amendment to the Minnesota constitution to allow the state to “opt out” of federal laws. There’s a word for states that decide that federal laws no longer apply to them: secessionist.
- Gutting healthcare reform in Minnesota in favor of the same useless proposals made by GOP members of Congress like “tort reform” and “buying insurance across state lines” which do nothing to improve access to care or lower costs.
- School “choice” vouchers which subsidize upper-middle and upper class children being educated in private and religious schools while depriving public schools of much needed funding.
- Cuts to all aspects of the social safety net for poor and working class families.
- Massive tax cuts, including a complete elimination of all corporate income taxes. (This is, no doubt, the primary reasoning for Target’s support, their HQ is in Minnesota, no corporate income taxes would put millions back into their coffers.)
- The death penalty.
- Looser gun control standards, including the “opt out” from all federal firearms laws.
- Disenfranchisement of poor, disabled and elderly voters via strict photo ID requirements at the polling place. (He uses the well-debunked “ACORN committed voter fraud” lie on his website to justify this.)
The simple fact is that Target has failed its customers here, and wants to pretend that no issues other than Emmer’s position about business (and business taxes) have any importance. But they do, we all know it. Emmer isn’t running on a strictly business platform.
But by focusing strictly on the anti-LGBT aspects of Emmer’s legislative past and current campaign platform (and the friendship with the bandleader), LGBT activists are shooting themselves in the foot. They need to ally with progressives across the spectrum to point the many ways in which Tom Emmer is a disastrous candidate for Target to have thrown their weight behind, and to hold Target’s feet to the fire about this. This is more than, bigger than, an LGBT issue, and needs to be treated that way.