I have been viewing with interest the development of a broadbased boycott of bottled water. When the United Church of Canada announced their endorsement of a boycott of bottled water, the issue hit the mainstream in Canada.
I find this a very heartening sign in several ways. First it signals that there are growing numbers of people who believe that some of the basics of life really should not have a price tag. Secondly it signals once again a growing alignment of the religious Left with the political Left, a coalition that is necessary to gain the broadbased support to challenge the populist support of the far Right.
Lastly, this issue is a very sophisticated one to have the populist appeal that it does. It is commonly taught in political campaign schools that the vast majority of the public cannot hold two ideas in their minds at the same time so political arguments cannot pose complex chains of logic…despite most political issues requiring two or more steps. Usually analysis of election results show that people have bought very simple arguments such as, “It’s time for change”, “Throw the bums out, they’re crooked”, or “Let’s give them another chance” and tapping into those simple powerful messages is the way to win elections.
But let’s look at the messaging in the bottled water boycott.
1. When I drink bottled water, I care less about the safety of tap water.
2. If everyone cares less about the safety of tap water, it may decline in quality.
3. If it declines in quality those who cannot afford bottled water will get sick from tap water.
4. Therefore bottled water is immoral, unethical and I will not buy it.
Fully four steps of political reasoning involved in this issue. Wow! And it is gaining momentum. We should all be encouraged.