A small business owner in western Massachusetts is facing boycotts and hostility because he appeared in a photo at the White House with President Trump.

For weeks now the left has defended NFL players, saying they shouldn’t have to choose between their political views and their jobs. Now we’re back to the situation Christian bakers found themselves in over the gay marriage debate.

Laurie Loisel reports at the Boston Globe:

Dave of Dave’s Soda and Pet City posed with President Trump. Now he’s under fire

Business owners in Western Massachusetts apparently associate themselves with the 45th president at their peril.

Just ask Dave Ratner, owner of Dave’s Soda and Pet City, a small chain of shops selling the unlikely combination of pet supplies, birds, fish, and beverages for humans. Ratner attended President Trump’s signing of an executive order authorizing changes to the Affordable Care Act designed to create cheaper — and less comprehensive — health insurance plans. An Associated Press photograph of the event, with Ratner smiling broadly behind Trump, has come back to haunt him, big time.

“It was 42 years of building a wonderful brand and having it destroyed in one day,” said Ratner, interviewed Sunday morning after what he terms “the worst two days of my life.”

Ratner has been excoriated on social media, and many customers are calling for store boycotts. He was not prepared for the strong reaction.

“I feel like I walked into a room, and somebody shot somebody when I was in the room, and so people are looking at me,” he said.

Ratner, a Springfield native who opened his first store in Hadley in 1975, said he built his brand on the idea that customers want to feel connected to the owners of the shops they patronize.

Ratner claims he was at the White House for a very specific reason:

Ratner says he didn’t fully understand what he was going to the White House to witness. He said his wife now tells him that was naive, and he’s deeply regretful of his actions.

He’s tried to explain this to his customers, and he’s pained that many of them won’t even listen.

For those willing to hear it, here’s the back story: Ratner is an active member of the National Retail Federation, a trade association supportive of small, local businesses. For years through this federation, his company and others negotiated for cheaper group insurance rates, giving them some of the advantages large companies have. With the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, this negotiating power vanished. Since then, he has trekked to Washington, D.C., annually, talking to anyone who will listen about how unfair that is.

Ratner can be seen in the photo below, standing behind Trump, second from the left:

Reactions on social media have been harsh:

In what appears to be an effort to back-pedal out of this and save his business, Ratner is now claiming he didn’t understand what was happening at the White House.

Shannon Young reports at Mass Live:

Dave’s Soda and Pet City Owner Dave Ratner slams White House’s efforts to dismantle ACA, ’embarrassed’ for attending executive order signing

Dave Ratner, the owner of Agawam-based chain Dave’s Soda and Pet City, doesn’t blame customers who have expressed anger and criticism over his recent attendance at a White House executive order signing — an event which he said he thought would be focused on helping small businesses, not rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

Ratner, whom the National Retail Federation invited to the Thursday White House ceremony, stressed Saturday that he and other small business owners at the event had no idea President Donald Trump would use the measure, which seeks to allow small businesses to purchase health insurance in groups and across state lines, as a way to undercut the ACA.

Had he known, the Western Massachusetts businessman and Retailers Association of Massachusetts board member said, he never would’ve attended the executive order’s signing.

“If someone says to you, this is what I’m going to do, you go there because you think that’s what they’re going to do, right? (Trump) just basically dismantled all of Obamacare, but he didn’t let that out until we were standing there,” he said in an interview. “People think that I went and I’m in favor of dismantling Obamacare, I’m certainly not in favor of all the other stuff — it’s stupid — and neither is the association. I wasn’t duped, I just never would have gone had I known what the true intention was.”

This is the result of the politicization of everything. Every aspect of life is now subject to political scrutiny and those with the wrong views will be punished accordingly.

Featured image via YouTube.