The headlines today said that Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, and that Donald Trump inappropriately retaliated by using the official POTUS account on Twitter to attack the retailer. And that’s all accurate. But amid Trump’s tantrum and the ensuing controversy, the larger point of the story may have been overlooked: corporations always follow the money, and they’re increasingly betting on the anti-Trump side of the fence.
The real reason you know corporations aren’t people is that even if they have a soul, it only extends as far as the bottom line. By their very nature, corporations can’t dabble too heavily in things that are unprofitable, and their political activism tends to align with what is profitable. Sure, the ninety-seven tech giants that came together to take legal action against Trump’s Muslim ban were doing the human thing by trying to protect the well-being their immigrant employees, but there’s no denying that they have a financial interest in protecting those valuable employees. Accordingly, it’s not as if Nordstrom suddenly grew a conscience today. In fact it admitted the real reason it dropped Ivanka’s clothes.
“This decision was based on business results,” Nordstrom explained to an inquiring customer on Twitter. “It was not a political decision. Based on the brand’s performance, we decided not to buy it for this season.” In other words, Ivanka Trump’s clothes aren’t selling well anymore, because the public has made a point of boycotting Trump-branded products and services. And one can assume that the larger boycott of Nordstrom altogether, in an attempt to force it to drop Ivanka’s clothes, played a factor as well.
In other words, Nordstrom made the bet today that its financial bottom line will be better off by pleasing those who despise Donald Trump, even at the risk of incurring his wrath. And it appears to have been the correct gamble. Its stock price took a momentary hit after Trump’s tweet, but then quickly recovered. It also paved the way for Marshalls and TJ Maxx to announce later in the day that they would be scaling down Ivanka’s clothing line. It’s for the same reason the CEO of Uber, who had been a Trump supporter, changed sides this week and took legal action against Trump.
These corporations all want to keep turning the largest profit they reasonably can. And when we make a sustained coordinated effort, we can in fact influence their behavior. No one should nominate Nordstrom for the Nobel prize simply because it dropped Ivanka’s clothing line; it was merely a financial decision. But it was a decision we ultimately made for them. Donald Trump partly owns Ivanka’s company, so we’ve definitively taken money out of his wallet – and we’ve gotten billion dollar corporations to bend to our will. If we keep up the pressure, corporations will keep siding with us over Trump. Because it’s not about the politics for them — it’s about the money. If you really want to piss off Trump, go buy something from Nordstrom right now.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report