Opinion: Ratner Backlash a Clear Sign of the Times
Over his four decades of selling pet food, soda, and a lot of other things, Dave Ratner has proven himself to be a very good retailer and an extremely smart businessperson.
Smart enough to know that it’s never, ever a good idea to mix business with politics.
He didn’t think he was doing that when he went to the White House recently to attend the signing of a measure he pushed hard for as a member of the National Retail Federation, one that would give small-business owners more flexibility in purchasing health insurance.
Ratner went to the White House not knowing this would be far from the only matter to be commemorated on a day when President Trump would sign an executive order peeling back portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The measure backed by the National Retail Federation had really nothing to do with the executive order on the ACA, but that doesn’t matter in these days of almost unprecedented polarization among Americans. Ratner was standing right behind the president on a day when health insurance for millions of Americans became clouded by question marks.
And that was more than enough to convince some people they had to buy their dog food somewhere else — or buy it at the same place, but not before giving Ratner and his staff an earful.
In a letter to the Republican recently, Ratner claimed he was duped by the White House and called himself an “idiot” for putting himself in what was obviously the wrong place at the wrong time — at least if you claim, as Ratner does, that he doesn’t support the president or the changes to the ACA.
He can be hard on himself on himself if he wants, especially amid his contention that he was only being respectful to the office of the president in showing up in the first place.
We prefer to view this episode as a clear sign of the times. Americans are divided, they are angry, and they want to vent. And often, they vent before they know the whole story or before they really listen to what is being said.
This is the way it is now, and the way it’s going to be for quite a while. We’d like to say there is a lesson in here somewhere, but we’re not sure there is. Like we said, Ratner wasn’t trying to mix business with politics, but they got mixed anyway.