Are You Contributing to Republicans When You Buy a Car?

What do you look for in a car? Safety? Fuel economy? Comfort? Affordability? How about whether you are inadvertently making a campaign contribution to the Republican party?
Auto dealers are among the most aggressive contributors to the Republican party and Republican candidates. Compared to other industries, they are among the most lopsided in their giving. During the 2000 election cycle, 96% of the auto industry’s soft money went to the GOP.
In addition, some of the largest auto dealers are among the Bush Pioneers, who raised many millions for Bush’s election and re-election campaigns. According to Automotive News, auto dealers played an active role in funneling a whopping $150 million to the Bush-Cheney campaign. Dealers also crowed about the pivotal role they played in the battleground state of Ohio.
How do auto dealers make so much money they can afford to write those big checks? To extract the last possible dime from even the most wary customers, auto dealers commonly engage in highly sophisticated scams like “loan packing,” auto salvage fraud, dealer “markups” of interest rates, “yo-yo” financing, high-pressure sales tactics, and other forms of predatory practices.
How can you avoid making a inadvertent contribution to the Bushites? Next time you buy a car, consider buying a used car from an individual. By eliminating the middle man (yes, the biggest auto dealers are almost exclusively white and male), you can save a bundle–and also avoid contributing to the auto dealers’ political agenda.
Nationally, auto dealers’ top legislative priority is elimination of the estate tax. They have also invested vast sums in opposing improved fuel economy standards. (Global warming? Forgetaboutiit. Gotta hype those Expeditions, Escalades, and Hummers.) They are hugely active in pushing to eliminate longstanding state and federal consumer protections. They have a long history of opposing safety advances including shoulder harnesses to protect kids in the back seat, air bags, safety glass, side impact protection, public information about crash tests, and disclosure of vehicles’ likelihood of flipping over in a crash. To top it all off, they are increasingly inserting mandatory arbitration clauses into their contracts–forcing you to give up your constitutional rights when you buy a car from them.
When you go somewhere other than a dealership to buy, you are not only saving money, and withholding funds from the GOP, you are also preserving your constitutional rights–and helping save the planet.
Just make sure you aren’t buying from a curbstoner—an unlicensed dealer. Google “curbstoner” to find out how to avoid them too.