Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Proud to say Barack Obama is our Man

The Boulder Book Store threw off the last shreds of objectivity last week and came out completely for Barack Obama and the entire slate of Democratic candidates running for office in this election. In the past, we have struggled to represent the right-wing, lunatic fringe and appease the rabid conservatives with a few token titles. We still have the conservative political books but that certainly won't fool anyone as to our true feelings. Now, as soon as you walk in our front door, you are greeted by a large table manned by the Boulder County Democratic Party.

Our inventory has always tilted significantly to the left. We are in a liberal town, with a liberal staff and an extremely liberal customer base. It's simply good business to sell Bush Countdown Clocks, anything by Michael Moore, and Barack Obama Llamas. However, we, like most bookstores, were always hesitant to take a clear stance in a national election. Why alienate a few conservative customers if we didn't need to? That all changed last week as the owner and the staff (you can't find a single employee that is even neutral in this election) felt the outcome of the election was more critical then any other concern.

I'm grateful for this decision. I was weary of trying to pretend to be objective and just business-minded when we are not. In 2004, several people (I won't call them customers because they usually didn't buy anything) complained bitterly about our election display. We had six shelves of books and all but a dozen or so were either anti George W. Bush or pro John Kerry. I walked these sputtering, incensed people over to the computer terminal and showed them our relative sales of Al Franken and Ann Coulter books. Most of them were surprised by the 50-1 margin that Franken outsold Coulter. I told them that they could buy some conservative books while they were at the store and that would impact our future buys on that author. They never did.

What is remarkable about this election is that hardly anyone has complained about our selection. We are much more biased in our inventory mix towards Obama then we ever were towards Kerry. We have a full selection of Obama t-shirts, bumper stickers and pins to go along with all the flattering books. Hardly a peep from the conservatives. It's like the fight has left the right. Perhaps they haven't gotten their marching orders telling them to walk into local bookstores and complain about the media bias.

Really, what's wrong with a store showing some bias in an election? We are human beings enmeshed in our communities, after all. We have a stake in the outcome of these races. People often work at bookstores because they value ideas and opinions more then it is fiscally responsible to do so. To ask these people to pretend that they don't have an opinion, or that the store as whole doesn't have an opinion, on the biggest issue of the day, is absurd. Especially now.

George Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republican party have spent the last seven years doing everything they can to trample on the very civil liberties that are at the heart of our value system. People who have disagreed with this administration have endured years of affronts and attempts to stifle dissent. It is our patriotic responsibility to take a stance in this election. To do any less would be un-American and we wouldn't want to give the right any cause to accuse us of that.

Go Obama. The time has come.


jkd said...

Damn straight, Arsen. Let's bring this one home.

Dullcinema said...

You know I'm right there with you on this, too. Book stores are, among other more saleable things, repositories of human intelligence. Tonight, we're making history come alive.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! It takes courage to come clean in such an accusatory damning environment.

And as you wrote, you can always justify your "bias" of stocking more "leftist" literature because that's where the sales are. Can we surmise correctly that much of the neo-con hate base doesn't read??

lady t said...

I'm thrilled that Obama has won and while I do see your point about being responsive to the community,my only hesitation here is the chance of alienating any customers and making them feel unwelcome due to their political beliefs.

When I was working at the small indie book store I used to be at(which has recently shut down for good)several years ago,we did have to deal with some folks who were not happy about our political book displays that were extremely liberal based and a few of the things we sold,like Axis of Evil finger puppets.

Yes,a couple of those people were just run of the mill cranks but it didn't help that one of the staff had taken upon himself to put up a sign saying "We here at So and So bookstore love a good bloody debate! Draw your swords!"

Another staff person changed that sign to more accurately say "SOME of us " instead. I personally didn't feel comfortable about getting into a political debate with any customer and felt that it wasn't proper business behavior.

To me,the whole point of a democracy is to allow others the right to disagree with you and while I would speak up about something if the occasion warranted it,I don't believe in going out of my way to put my views in someone else's face.

One incident really bothered me,I was at the front counter when a family of out-of-towners was ringing up their purchases. The wife noticed the Axis of Evil finger puppets(which had Khomeini,Saddam Hussan,Kim Jong Li and Bush)and said quietly,"I guess people in New York don't respect the President."

She didn't make a scene or hassle any of the staff,but I did feel bad that we made such a negative impression on her.

Last night,President Elect Obama said that he was the president for all of the people of this country,including the ones that didn't vote for him. I think it's time that everyone drop their anger riffs and join together to help solve the problems we're facing right now. Bookstores should be welcome places for everyone in the community and just allow folks to peacefully agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

I knew there was a reason I loved hanging out at the store whenever I pass through town.