Erika D. Smith

Are we done boycotting In-N-Out yet? California Democrats have better things to do

In-N-Out Burger signs, two in the foreground from the fast food chain’s original location, and one in the background at a new location in Baldwin Park, Calif.
In-N-Out Burger signs, two in the foreground from the fast food chain’s original location, and one in the background at a new location in Baldwin Park, Calif. AP

As we edge ever closer to the oh-so-important midterm elections, the last thing Democrats need is to enlist more people who are willing to boycott or protest, but not vote.

Try telling that to California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, though.

Late Wednesday, after reading an L.A. Magazine article that apparently made his blood pressure boil, Bauman called for a boycott of In-N-Out Burger because the chain committed the political sin of donating $25,000 to the California Republican Party at a time when Donald Trump is president.

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“Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party,” he tweeted. “It’s time to #BoycottInNOut — let Trump and his cronies support these creeps…perhaps animal style!”

It apparently doesn’t matter that In-N-Out also donated $80,000 to a political action committee that supports moderate Democrats. Or that donating to conservative causes is nothing new for the Christian family that owns the Irvine-based fast-food chain. Last year, they contributed $30,000 to Republicans and another $30,000 the year before that.


Well, the state party’s communications director, John Vigna, told the Los Angeles Times that it’s not an official boycott. But the Twittersphere is the Twittersphere and, for some, the boycott is still on.

(I swear, there’s a bad joke in here somewhere about red meat and a hungry political base.)

This is just one more idiotic distraction that will do nothing to help Democrats regain control of Congress in November, and even worse, could actually work against that goal by making liberals look like a bunch of petty, purity-politics-loving idiots to independent voters.

Rather than riling up a mob at a time when the toughest congressional races will likely be decided by a few thousand votes, we need to enlist more people who will do the work — and let’s be honest, in California, it’s not even really “work” — of registering to vote and actually filling out a ballot.

Millions of left-leaning Americans — many of them right here in California — didn’t do that during the 2016 presidential election, and often for the dumbest and laziest of reasons. They sure came out to protest after Trump took office, though.

Changing that dynamic will take fewer feel-good boycotts and more boring get-out-the-vote campaigns like the one being waged by billionaire liberal donor Tom Steyer, his group, NextGen America, and an array of labor unions. His goal is to get 650,000 voters to the polls to support Democrats running in seven California congressional districts now held by Republicans.

So far, NextGen has stayed away from the re-election bid by Rep. Duncan Hunter, the belligerent San Diego County Republican who has been indicted on campaign finance violations. It’s too bad, too. His Democratic opponent could clearly use the help.

Hunter still holds an 8-percentage-point lead over Ammar Campa-Najjar, which tells you a lot about where Democrats stand when it comes to that blue wave.

“The biggest hurdle to overcome is to encourage people to believe in the system, itself. The reason they don’t turn out is because they think their vote doesn’t matter,” Steyer said in an interview with McClatchy. “What we’re trying to enable is a conversation between voters and citizens about the issues … to understand how important they really are in the system.”

There’s nothing important about boycotting In-N-Out.

Erika D. Smith: 916-321-1185, @Erika_D_Smith.
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