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Wal-Mart -- The Battle On The Left


The most interesting debate going on about Wal-Mart these days is on the Left. Spurred by the release of Robert Greenwald’s problematic documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, there is an argument going on between those true-blue types who believe Wal-Mart bashing is a useful pursuit for Democrats, and those who have a more cautious view. Blogger Matthew Yglesias has poked holes in some of the anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric concerning company employees on public aid, while the Democratic Leadership Council’s Ed Kilgore has written a (characteristically) trenchant statement of why, whatever Wal-Mart’s problems, Democrats would be foolish to demonize the company:

In the southern small-town, rural and exurban communities I know best, and among the low-to-moderate income “working family” voters Democrats most need to re-attract, Wal-Mart is considered pretty damn near sacrosanct. And if Democrats decide to tell these voters they can’t be good progressives and shop at Wal-Mart, we will lose these people for a long, long time.

Maybe it’s different in…other parts of the country, but probably not too widely. And I defy you to find a credible political strategist in states with a big Wal-Mart presence who will tell you otherwise.

If you think we’ve been damaged as a party by culturally conservative working-class perceptions of us as people who want to take their guns away, you ain’t seen nothing yet if we become perceived as the party that wants to take Wal-Mart away. Indeed, it’s the one thing we could do, other than espousing actual racism, that might finally give Republicans a breakthrough among minority voters, who heavily shop at Wal-Mart where the option’s available.


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