“Vote with your wallet” is a popular idea, and a sensible one; many people aren’t comfortable with the idea of supporting a business that goes against their values. In today’s spirit of “there’s an app for that,” conservative-minded shoppers now have the mobile application “2nd Vote.”
In the promotional video, a female announcer (because only women shop!) asks, “Did you know you have a second vote? One you can cast every time you buy something?”
Um… yes? That’s kind of a no-brainer, I thought?
The app, being intended for conservatives, makes no attempt at neutrality; as the video goes on to explain, “You can quickly tell where companies fall on the spectrum between liberal and conservative: low scores are more liberal, high scores more conservative.”
Okay, hold on a second—whose definition of conservative values is this app using? Conservative politicians are generally a homogenous lot (ironically), but there’s still quite a bit of variation among the general population of conservatives. The app only ranks companies on a few of today’s hot-button issues—“Pro-Life,” “Marriage,” “Corporate Welfare,” “2nd Amendment rights,” and “Environment”—which presents a problem.
To give an example, the institution of marriage is actually not something every conservative feels the burning need to defend at all costs. In Rhode Island, all five Republicans in the state Senate supported freedom to marry. Some people are even predicting that the GOP will soon claim they were always in favor of marriage equality.
The inclusion of environment, meanwhile, is just strange; it’s more commonly a liberal issue, but few conservatives are actively campaigning for a real-world version of “The Lorax.”
Which issues the app rates companies on varies; Time Warner, which scored 3.3 out of 10, is ranked only on “2nd Amendment Rights,” “Environment,” “Marriage,” and “Pro-Life.” Time Warner’s highest score is a 4, for environment; the app explains that it “works to reduce energy usage and become more energy efficient.” That could be interpreted as the creators of the app thinking that Time-Warner could be doing considerably more—but it should be noted that the app gives companies 6/10 for remaining neutral on issues.
The comments in the ratings, which come from liberals and conservatives alike, also point out multiple problems with the way 2nd Vote rates businesses. One two-star review in the Apple store says, “The app covers only social issues (position on marriage, abortion, the environment, etc) which is fine, but I would like to know more about corporate sponsorship of politicians and political parties. I don’t really care that much about social issues but I sure do care about how my tax dollars are spent.”
A one-star review complains, “This app caters to extremists on the far right. Where is the love catered toward moderate conservatives?”
2nd Vote’s official video says, “Use it to vote your values.”
Even one of the four-star reviews retorts, “I wish I could pick the values I want reflected in the scores… this needs to be an app to rate stores based on the users’ beliefs not the creator.”