Turning Blue into Green for Favored Companies

By | March 21, 2005

A San Francisco-based nonprofit group that wants more consumers to support businesses that back liberal and “blue” state politics has added Progressive Insurance Co. to its preferred providers list.

The group, www.buyblue.org, is selling the notion that citizens who favor blue candidates and causes need to do more than show up at the ballot box at every election; they need to vote with their wallets by buying from blue companies when they shop.

Buyblue.org’s researchers pore over documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Election Commission, political action committee and news reports, and other documents to develop ratings for companies. The closer a company’s politics match those of the organization, the higher and darker the company’s blue rating. Companies with opposite politics are rated in varying shades of red.

Other corporations rated a favorable dark blue include Apple Computer, Barnes & Noble, Costco, Crate and Barrel, Foot Locker, Google, Polo Ralph Lauren, Starbucks, Starwood Hotel and Estee Lauder Companies.

But Progressive is the first and only insurance company to get the organization’s 100 percent dark blue rating. The group likes the fact that Progressive Chairman Peter Lewis contributed funds to Democrat Howard Dean and several Democratic organizations. Lewis also teamed up with George Soros and Herb and Marion Sandler to “invest further in the intellectual future of the left.”

The group’s recommendation actually goes beyond politics, however, telling members that Progressive gets high marks for competitive rates, value and service.

According to the founders, buyblue.org was started to channel the feelings of many voters after the last national election, in which “red” Republican state candidates bested “blue” Democratic candidates.

“Half of the country woke up in disbelief and disgust,” the founders explain. “Many were entertaining moving to another country. We had lost our country to the other side and we needed to do something about it. At that moment the original idea for BuyBlue.org was born.”

The idea is to generate support among consumers for businesses that share what it terms its “progressive values and ideals,” which include “sustainability, workers’ rights, environmental standards, and corporate transparency.”

“Why do we continue to patronize corporations that will spend their profits supporting undemocratic causes? It is time to persuade these corporations to espouse a more progressive point of view. To do so we must use our real power–the power of the dollar,” the group states.

In addition to boosting business for blue employers, buyblue.org also hopes to draw business away from firms whose politics are of a different color, namely red. Campbell Soup, Circuit City, Hershey Foods, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, McDonald’s and Shell Oil are among the reddest companies on its list. Aside from Progressive, it has only rated two other insurance companies and neither fared well: State Farm has been given a pinkish 35 percent rating, while GEICO has been rated bright red at only 5 percent.

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Insurance Journal West March 21, 2005
March 21, 2005
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