Tag Archive for: Corporate Activism

Tractor Supply Puts Pride Out to Pasture, Handing Americans Their Biggest Win Yet

Most Americans couldn’t dream up a better way to cap off the Left’s 2024 Pride fail than another big-name company running for the exits. While major league sports and other businesses quietly dumped the June tradition, Tractor Supply Co. opted for a full-scale reversal, complete with a public apology for their activism. In a statement that read like a death knell for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the rural retailer joined the bumper crop of brands on the sidelines — putting another exclamation point on this year’s epic pushback.

Fresh off a stint at another hotbed of wokeness, Macy’s, CEO Hal Lawton, who’s only been at the helm since 2020, took the Tennessee-based company in a radical new direction, embracing everything from transgenderism to DEI — decisions that earned him a perfect score on HRC’s 2022 Equality Index (and a 95% last year), honors on Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index for 2022 and 2023 and Newsweek’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity in 2023. And while the adulation of the Left might have been music to Lawton’s ears, it became a battle cry for his heartland consumers.

Journalist and film director Robby Starbuck fanned those flames, exposing Tractor Supply’s not-so-secret identity as a card-carrying member of the radical Left. For the better part of this summer, he reported on the details of Lawton’s partnerships, sparking grassroots outrage so intense that the company announced a complete course-correction.

In a blockbuster statement Thursday, Tractor Supply didn’t skirt the issue, admitting bluntly, “We work hard to live up to our Mission and Values every day and represent the values of the communities and customers we serve. We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them. We have taken this feedback to heart. Going forward,” they vow, “we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business.”

They list five monumental concessions, including promises to:

  1. “No longer submit data to the Human Rights Campaign
  2. Refocus our Team Member Engagement Groups on mentoring, networking and supporting the business
  3. Further focus on rural America priorities including ag education, animal welfare, veteran causes and being a good neighbor and stop sponsoring nonbusiness activities like pride festivals and voting campaigns
  4. Eliminate DEI roles and retire our current DEI goals while still ensuring a respectful environment [and]
  5. Withdraw our carbon emission goals and focus on our land and water conservation efforts.”

“We will continue to listen to our customers and Team Members. Your trust and confidence in us are of the utmost importance, and we don’t take that lightly. As we look forward to celebrating our nation’s independence, we also celebrate our more than 50,000 team members across 2,250 stores. Rural communities are the backbone of our nation and what make America great. We are honored to be a part of them. We are always here and ready to serve you and your family with our legendary service for the life you love. See you in the stores.”

The sound you hear is millions of conservatives’ jaws dropping. Had Tractor Supply agreed to even one of these policy changes, it would have been headline news. But to virtually wipe the slate clean of every vestige of LGBT activism, climate change, and then flat-out ditch DEI is a political transformation the likes of which Americans have never seen. Not only that but the company’s contrition felt sincere — and more importantly, backed by concrete steps to prove it.

“This is a massive victory for sanity and the single biggest boycott win of our lifetime,” Starbuck tweeted. To HRC, who denounced the move in a desperate attempt to hang on to their corporate leverage, he warned, “This is the beginning, not the end. … You call me an extremist but you know what I find extreme? Expecting every company on earth to force your political + social beliefs on the entire planet. That seems sort of extreme. All my side is asking for is sanity. Let stores just be stores again. No politics, no far left social values push, just good products & service. No one is asking for discrimination, just normalcy and to not have your politics shoved down their throat.”

At this rate, the people who’ll be most relieved when Pride Month is over are the organizers.

Perhaps most telling, Tractor Supply wasn’t afraid to list its disassociation from HRC first — a level of open defiance that would have been unthinkable five years ago. And yet, like so many businesses, Lawton has realized the only force to truly fear is consumers.

As All-American swimmer and women’s advocate Riley Gaines pointed out, Lawton had plenty of incentive to roll back his extremism. “It only took @TractorSupply losing $2 billion before they decided to stick to selling farm equipment rather than engaging in activism. I believe this is the strongest ‘apology’ statement we’ve seen from a corporation so far. Props to them for listening & responding to their base.”

Donald Trump Jr. applauded Tractor Supply’s disavowal of the Left, writing, “This is great. … It takes courage to admit when you’ve gone [astray] & it’s time more companies acknowledge they are there to serve their actual customers & those communities & not the woke causes of people who would never set foot in your stores. Well Done!”

For conservatives who’ve been fighting wokeism before it was a word, this is a powerful moment — even a historic one. Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” can’t believe what he’s seeing. “Political neutrality is extremely difficult to achieve. … The reason,” he explains, “… is because of the politicization of basically everything in society, right? Health care is now political. Investments are political. Everything has been overtly made into a political issue. … [And] when everything is political, it pits us against each other. … And that’s something that we have to try and prevent against.”

Ever since the Bud Light and Target fiascos last year, Soukup told The Washington Stand, “Corporations have become aware that there is a distinction between ‘stakeholders’ and stakeholders. As the scare quotes imply, the first is a group of people who have no real skin in the game and are using the company solely to make a political point. The second, by contrast, are people who have a genuine interest in the company and its well-being — customers, employees, shareholders, etc. Catering to the former at the expense of the latter has proven to be a disastrous business strategy and, as a result, is rightly being abandoned by corporate leaders who understand what their fiduciary duties are.”

After this explosion of pushback, he feels the ground shifting. “… I’m so much more optimistic now than I was three or four years ago about how effective we can be in halting this ideological, political takeover of business and capital markets,” Soukup insisted.

But on the ideological battlefield, revolutions don’t happen all at once, Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm pointed out. “You have to move one step at a time. You conquer a bridge, a hill, then a town. You keep piling up small victories, until eventually you realize a significant amount of territory has been conquered.”

Well, a significant amount of territory has been conquered here, and Americans who took a stand by taking their money elsewhere deserve all the credit in the world. The Goliaths are falling in a battle no conservative imagined winning. So pick up your slings, and let’s go. There are giants to slay.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Target Retreats from LGBT Merch after Year-Long Profit Bloodbath

This year’s Pride Month is shaping up to be a much more humble affair at Target. In an extremely gratifying twist, the company that bragged their transgender line is “great for our brand” has changed its mind after a year-long stock market bruising. It’s the latest evidence that the wildfire of consumer activism is not only spreading but forcing the kind of change most people never thought possible.

If you asked conservatives two years ago, stopping the woke at major brands would’ve been a victory. But reversing the woke? That’s a tectonic shift in the power structure of Big Business. For once, CEOs — who for years have thrown their radical agenda in the face of shoppers — are feeling enough pain in their profit margins to stop and ask if appeasing the far-Left is worth it.

Target’s CEO Brian Cornell, who flaunted the stores’ chest binders and tucking swimming suits for kids as “progress,” finally counted the cost of his social extremism late last summer. By the end of a dismal August, he didn’t apologize, but he did admit that it was time for some soul searching. As his first and second quarter earnings tanked, he hinted at changes ahead. “As we navigate an ever-changing operating and social environment, we’re applying what we’ve learned to ensure we’re staying close to our guests and their expectations of Target.”

What Cornell learned, Americans will be pleased to know, is that trans activism is the fastest road to financial insolvency. After thumbing his nose at Christmas shoppers with shelves full of LGBT pandering, the full weight of consumer outrage started to sink in. Like his counterparts at Anheuser-BuschNikeDisneyPlanet FitnessRipCurl, and Doritos, he sent shoppers running for the exits.

But the activism has obviously gotten to an unsustainable point for his business, forcing Target to announce what would have been unthinkable a year and a half ago: a significant reduction in Pride products. On its website Thursday, the company wanted people to know that this summer’s LGBT merchandise will not only be limited but designed with adults — not children — in mind.

“We’re offering a collection of products including adult apparel and home and food and beverage items, curated based on consumer feedback,” the notice read. “The collection will be available on Target.com and in select stores, based on historical sales performance.” Of the company’s 2,000 stores nationwide, only some will carry the items that landed them in hot water last year.

Naturally, the company’s course-correction didn’t thrill the corporate hostage-takers in the LGBT movement, who immediately blasted Target’s decision to put profitability first. Kelley Robinson, president of the extreme Human Rights Campaign, said Cornell’s move was a disappointing betrayal of their progressive values. “Pride merchandise means something,” she insisted. “LGBTQ+ people are in every zip code in this country, and we aren’t going anywhere.”

The company’s PR team rushed to reassure Robinson and other activists, saying in a statement, “Target is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and year-round,” headquarters wrote. “Most importantly, we want to create a welcoming and supportive environment for our LGBTQIA+ team members, which reflects our culture of care for the over 400,000 people who work at Target.”

So while Americans can (and should) celebrate the difference they’re making with their money, the work isn’t over. This muted approach to Pride is still an effort to play both sides. As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Washington Stand, “CEO Brian Cornell is discovering that customers do ‘expect more’ now that many consumers are spending less at Target because of its LGBTQ fixation. By avoiding Target, consumers are getting the woke corporation’s attention, but not necessarily their behavior. They should continue spending elsewhere until their behavior meets consumers’ expectations.”

FRC’s Meg Kilgannon also chimed in, pointing out that Pride Month’s celebration of “unnatural lifestyles, proclivities, and identities has become more and more obnoxious over time.” The idea that Target is “setting a limit on Pride merchandising and marketing is remarkable for a corporate America too willing to bend the knee to HRC’s fake business scores,” she agreed. “As American shoppers endure rising prices and lower wages, retail stores suffer — not only from Bidenomics — but their own ridiculous investments in social justice and culture war issues that have nothing to do with profits and everything to do with virtue signaling to shape public opinion.”

“I haven’t shopped in Target recently and don’t plan to,” Kilgannon said. “But it is nice to think that the June rainbow radicals might be dialing things back. If people stop shopping in June, or at least stop spending money in stores and with businesses with rainbow logos and beyond, more retailers will get the message.”

Others, like expert Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” urge people not to be duped by Target’s “half-measures.” “They seem unlikely to make anyone happy,” he told TWS, “while almost certainly frustrating observers and activists on all sides of the issue. Target says, for example, that it is carefully assessing which stores will have LGBTQ merchandise this year,” he pointed out. “That’s irrelevant in the digital age. Wherever the displays are, they will be videoed and uploaded to social media, causing every bit of outrage and frustration they have caused in previous years,” Soukup said.

“Likewise,” he explained, “it’s important to remember that Target took a hit on its Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index score last year, simply because it responded to customer anger at its displays. The company will almost certainly get nicked again this year for supposedly capitulating to anti-LGBTQ sentiment by limiting its Pride Month offerings.” Ultimately, Soukup predicted, “Both outcomes are likely to aggravate Target’s shareholders. It took several months last year for the company’s stock price to recover from its Pride Month-induced freefall, and a repeat of that disaster may well cause larger and more activist investors to question management’s competence and foresight.”

Regardless, there’s no denying that Americans are moving the needle on corporate extremism. As Perkins said on Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) “Truth Be Told” podcast before he was elected speaker, “This is not a gray area” for most people. Even non-believers understand the difference between males and females. “And I actually think this is why we’re seeing such significant pushback across the nation…” When Americans are silent, he warned, “we are playing right along with the deception that is destroying the lives of many young people.”

At the end of the day, he acknowledged, “What we have is not our own. … God has entrusted you with the resources to buy food, clothing, the necessities of life. Do you think He would really want you sending that to an entity that uses the profits … [to attack] the biblical truth that he expects us to live by? So it really comes down to a stewardship issue. It’s not about boycotting. [It’s about using money] in a way that would honor God. … And I’ll have to be very, very clear. I do not think being caught in a Target store is honoring God.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Feminism, Transgenderism, and the Disappearance of Male Spaces

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Nike Stocks Still Tanking a Year after Mulvaney Partnership

A lot has happened since Dylan Mulvaney pranced around his yard in a Nike sports bra last April. Days after his face appeared on Bud Light cans — the controversy that launched a thousand boycotts — the sight of him doing jumping jacks in women’s workout gear was almost worst. And a stock chart that looks like a downhill ski slope proves it. Months after the country protested with a bonfire of bra burning, the only swoosh Nike hears now is the sound of profits gushing.

While Bud Light hogged most of the spotlight with its historic collapse, the devastation of Nike’s trans advocacy is real. By August of last year, the brand of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods was experiencing what experts called “its biggest losing streak since 1980.” With catastrophic losses — upwards of $13 billion dollars in market value — consumer outrage was packing a serious punch.

Angry women led the charge, lashing out at the company as an insult to females everywhere. “The ad feels like a parody of what women are. … That Nike would do this feels like a kick in the teeth,” one posted. Others blasted the brand for making a “mockery out of women,” vowing never to buy another thing from a company that chose a man “over all the hardworking women who workout regularly in your activewear.” It’s “absolutely disgusting.” Most people just couldn’t understand the marketing logic. “Why doesn’t Nike pay a real women to promote a product that is solely for women?” they wanted to know.

Almost a year later, the pressure hasn’t let up. Market analysts have been shocked by the company’s inability to rebound, a nosedive they wrongly assumed was temporary. According to Yahoo Finance, Nike’s stock is down 11.3% since the beginning of the year, and it’s trading “26.1% below its 52-week high.” And while experts are blaming everything from weak overseas demand to slowing sales and pricing challenges, their theories miss the most important reality: shoppers won’t put up with social extremism anymore. LGBT activism, the kind flaunted by Mulvaney and embraced by tone-deaf board rooms, continues to be the kiss of death to corporate profitability.

A long line of woke CEOs can testify to that — including Anheuser-BuschTargetDisneyPlanet FitnessRipCurl, and Doritos (although the latter two took the bold step of apologizing and course-correcting). Nike, on the other hand, only dug in — a decision that forced them to lay off 1,600 people in February, with a second round of cuts expected in May.

Nike boss John Donahoe has called the company’s downturn “a painful reality and not one that I take lightly.” “We are currently not performing at our best, and I ultimately hold myself and my leadership team accountable,” he said, leaving out any mention of the poor decisions that put Nike in this position in the first place.

Unfortunately, the company has a long and frustrating history of political activism. Millions of customers called it quits on Nike after their endorsement of anti-American quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who, along with disrespecting our national anthem, persuaded the company to shelve its patriotic shoes. They were the first sports retailer to fan the flames of racial tension during the George Floyd riots, voicing support for controversial groups like Black Lives Matter. They’ve fought against religious freedom in adoption billsgirls sports and privacy, even launched a special trans line of clothing called Be True.

Most egregiously, Nike was one of the few brands openly using slave labor to stitch their iconic shoes together. A 2020 expose from The Washington Post talked about the Uyghurs who were spared China’s concentration camps only to hunch over tables sewing Nike’s logo on an endless line of shoes — up to seven million pairs a year.

“Everyone knows they didn’t come here of their own free will,” a Chinese woman told reporter Anna Fifield at the time. “They were brought here … because they didn’t have an option. The government sent them here.” It’s how the Chinese government is “exporting the punitive culture and ethos of Xinjiang’s ‘reeducation camps’ to factories across China,” one expert told the Post.

Incredibly, when a bipartisan bill threatened to outlaw the use of slave labor for American companies, ending our country’s role in these human rights atrocities, Nike fought to kill it. Company spokesmen denied that, responding to The New York Times allegations that they were only in “constructive conversations” with lawmakers. But even today, three years after Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the Canadian government is investigating complaints that Nike is still using slave laborers in Xinjiang, which they consider a “crime against humanity.”

Now, a year into their Dylan Mulvaney fiasco, the Oregon-based headquarters is reaping the whirlwind. Instead of taking their foot off the gas of an agenda Americans have so clearly rejected, Nike is stubbornly leaning into the radicalism that’s bankrupting other brands. At a time when almost 300 companies are backing off their LGBT advocacy, Nike scored a perfect 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index this year (quite a feat considering HRC’s steep transgender benchmarks).

If Nike wants to enrage consumers at a time of record pushback, that’s their business. But better advice might come from their peers, who believe a smarter company slogan would be: Just don’t.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Bruised BlackRock Slapped with Cease and Desist for Lying to Investors

It had been a relatively quiet 2024 for embattled BlackRock CEO Larry Fink — until about two weeks ago. Texas, in a massive blow to his woke firm, pulled the pin on an $8.5 billion dollar grenade, announcing that it was following through on its threat to drop Fink’s services where its school fund management was concerned. A firm that shuns oil and gas investments doesn’t have Texas’s best interests at heart, leaders decided. Turns out, that move — the single largest punch to BlackRock’s gut to date — was just the beginning of Fink’s spring headaches.

Late last week, Mississippi dropped another bombshell: a cease and desist order aimed at the firm’s blatant dishonesty about its ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing. When Fink cleverly withdrew BlackRock’s name from the controversial Climate Action 100+ initiative in February, he created the appearance that the world’s largest asset management firm wasn’t putting its environmental activism over its financial responsibilities. But looks can be deceiving. According to several sources, BlackRock’s anti-fossil fuel agenda is still very much alive, a fact that Secretary of State Michael Watson made abundantly clear in his complaint.

“BlackRock has made and continues to make untrue statements of material fact, and to omit material facts to make its statements not misleading to investors and potential investors in Mississippi,” the 29-page order read. “These misrepresentations pertain to BlackRock’s provision of investment services, especially its involvement in pushing Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) factors on portfolio companies. Additionally, many of BlackRock’s acts, practices, and courses of business operate or would operate as fraud or deceit upon investors and potential investors in Mississippi.”

With this legal action, Fink could face “an administrative penalty, potentially a multi-million dollar fine,” National Review warns. As far as the Magnolia State is concerned, BlackRock is openly double-crossing investors — an allegation that certainly won’t help rehabilitate the firm’s damaged image. Fink admitted last year that his company had already lost around $4 billion in business as a result of the backlash meted out by states. If he’s not careful, another serving of boycotts could be headed his way.

BlackRock claims to care about clients’ “long-term financial prospects,” Watson writes, but “[t]hese statements are untrue … because the consideration of ESG factors does not provide an indication of better financial returns or current or future risk profiles.” That, the secretary insists, is “misleading to investors who are interested in ESG for financial (as opposed to social or political) reasons, and who are led to believe that BlackRock’s ESG funds will receive a financial benefit from BlackRock’s consideration of ESG criteria.” Not to mention, he adds, “BlackRock charges higher fees for some of its ESG funds than it does for comparable non-ESG funds.”

Interestingly, Mississippi isn’t one of the 12 states who’ve either divested from BlackRock or passed laws that make that decision likely in the near future. This action, as Wild Hild of Consumers Research explained, is unique — a “first-of-its-kind” attack on the leftist agenda driving so many of these funds. BlackRock’s CEO continues “to pretend that the only time they engage in ESG, it is with permission of the shareholders — but in reality, ESG policies have seeped into every facet of BlackRock’s asset management. They’ve been lying to their customers,” Hild added.

This doesn’t surprise The Political Forum’s Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” who pointed out to The Washington Stand, “Larry Fink wanted to be famous. Now that he is, he’s learning that one of the perils of fame is that everyone, everywhere knows what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Among those paying the closest attention to the now-famous Fink and his massive asset management firm are elected officials, who have a clear responsibility to protect the interests of their constituents.” He believes that what we’re seeing “in Mississippi, Texas, and in other red states is the consequence of Fink’s quest for fame, wealth, and power as it collides with Republican elected officials’ quest to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”

Publicly, the wave of 2022 backlash that led states to quit BlackRock seemed to humble Fink. Last summer, he decided to drop ESG from his lexicon because the term was too toxic. He pivoted to “energy pragmatism,” which he explained as investing in clean energy while also backing “traditional energy sources, like fossil fuels.” The firm even showed more restraint on ESG shareholder proposals, supporting just 7% of the 400 submitted according to the last annual report. “That is a marked shift,” the Washington Examiner pointed out. “BlackRock supported nearly a quarter of such proposals in the previous cycle and 47% of environmental and social proposals the cycle before that.”

And yet, none of these surface-level changes seemed to comfort Texas, where local officials warn that the firm’s anti-fossil fuel agenda will ultimately haunt the state. “BlackRock’s dominant and persistent leadership in the ESG movement immeasurably damages our state’s oil & gas economy and the very companies that generate revenues for our Permanent School Fund (PSF),” State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey argued. “Texas and the PSF have worked to grow this fund to build Texas’ schools. BlackRock’s destructive approach toward the energy companies that this state and our world depend on is incompatible with our fiduciary duty to Texans. Today represents a major step forward for the Texas PSF and our state as a whole. The PSF will not stand idly by while our financial future is attacked by Wall Street.”

Both Texas and Mississippi are committed to holding BlackRock’s feet to the fire — a move that the 1792 Exchange’s Paul Fitzpatrick applauds.

“It’s troubling to see the largest asset manager in the world, which has an army of lawyers and a fiduciary duty to customers, including state pensions for nearly all 50 states, making clearly contradictory statements,” Fitzpatrick told TWS. “To fulfill its ESG and ‘sustainable’ commitments to coalitions like the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, BlackRock pledges to use ‘all assets under management,’ not just the funds labeled ESG, to change behavior of companies to advance political goals. This doublespeak includes the use of proxy voting, whereby BlackRock uses its customers’ funds to vote for various ESG proposals. Many customers who did not opt into ESG funds would never have voted for a ‘racial equity audit’ at The Home Depot or for Exxon Mobil to pursue net zero goals, among other resolutions,” he points out.

“We hope Secretary Watson’s courage inspires other state leaders to hold all fiduciaries accountable.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Americans Chip Away at Corporate Wokeness with Doritos Win [Video]

It took Frito-Lay 63 years to build a $13 billion dollar empire. This week, 50 seconds almost destroyed it. That’s how close the brand came to corporate annihilation after its Doritos team posted a short video with a trans influencer that makes Dylan Mulvaney look like a youth pastor. Turns out, 24-year-old Samantha Hudson isn’t just a man pretending to be a woman, he’s a sick pervert with dreams of sexually abusing children. Congratulations, Bud Light. You’re officially out of the brand basement.

To everyone’s shock, Hudson, who appeared on “Crunch Talk” on behalf of Doritos Spain, has a disgusting history of social media tweets that fantasize about everything from nymphomania to child sexual abuse. “I want to do thuggish things to get into a 12-year-old girl’s [expletive],” he wrote. In another post, he talks about being in the middle of a street in his underwear “in front of a super beautiful 8-year-old girl.” With surprising cruelty, he vilifies victims of abuse, writing, “I hate women who are victims of sexual assault and go to self help centers to overcome their trauma. Annoying sl—s.”

As if that weren’t enough, Hudson describes himself as a Marxist “anti-capitalist,” who fights for “the abolition of … the traditional monogamous nuclear family” — which apparently makes him perfect spokesperson material.

Of course, once people started digging up his vile statements, Hudson apologized, claiming they were “pure provocation and in very bad taste.” “… [H]onestly I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I don’t remember having written such barbarities. … I thought that ‘dark humor’ was funny.” But it was too late. Americans across every platform were horrified, outraged, and to Frito-Lay’s terror, motivated. From journalists to former Trump officials, people called for “the Bud Light treatment.” Who hires an admitted pedophile to be the face of their product, everyone wondered? And what lazy marketing team doesn’t do a background check?

“This person is a million times worse than Dylan Mulvaney,” Ian Miles Cheong argued. The country seemed to agree — making #BoycottDoritos trend on X within hours of the story breaking.

Then something incredible happened. Before the wave of consumer anger hit land, Frito-Lay didn’t just take the video down — they fired Hudson. “We have ended the relationship,” a spokesperson told Rolling Stone. “We strongly condemn words or actions that promote violence or sexism of any kind.”

It was an astonishing turn for the company, even more astonishing given the timetable. Less than 48 hours after the video went viral, Frito-Lay — whose parent company PepsiCo has a perfect 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign on trans advocacy — dropped Hudson like a hot potato. Even Rip Curl, who faced the world’s wrath last month for featuring a trans “hero” in its surfer series, took five days to apologize — a record for regret.

That’s how dangerous it’s become for brands to cross consumers with a woke agenda. In the 11 months since Mulvaney-gate at Bud Light — a gamble that’s now cost them an eye-popping $1.4 billion in revenue — the entire landscape of corporate activism has changed. CEOs who were tripping over themselves to embrace the LGBT fringe are desperate to avoid the pushback that broke Anheuser-BuschTargetDisney, and others.

As Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm pointed out to The Washington Stand, this situation is different than other endorsement deals “involving so-called trans influencers,” since Hudson has quite a different, depraved past. “But it’s good to see that gender identity is no longer providing immunity to do and say terrible things,” he observed. “Wokeness has long insisted those labeled ‘oppressed’ can get away with doing things other people should not do. We need a world where people are judged consistently by their choices more than the group they identify with. Yes, Frito-Lay is probably doing a financial calculation here as well, but this is still a refreshing act of moral sanity.”

For corporate America, it’s quite a sea change. After years of punching above their weight class, Big Business faces a terrifying reality: consumers are punching back. And victories like this one will only inspire them to flex those muscles more.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Student Files Lawsuit against Fairfax County’s ‘Dystopian’ Trans Bathroom, Pronoun Policies

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Woke Investment Managers Pull $15.7 Trillion from Climate Activism Pact

BlackRock and other U.S.-based investment management conglomerates have chosen to withdraw from a controversial initiative, Climate Action 100+ (CA100+), that pressured companies to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions” to “net-zero emissions by 2050 [or] sooner,” in pursuit of “limiting global average temperature increase” to 1.5 degrees above “pre-industrial levels.” The withdrawals follow financial and legal pressure from U.S. state officials, as well a new phase of cooperation for CA100+ that would move “from words to action.”

As of last June, more than 700 firms had joined CA100+, controlling a breathtaking $68 trillion, or nearly 2.5 times the U.S.A.’s annual GDP.

However, last week, Reuters reported that some of the world’s largest investment managers had withdrawn from CA100+. BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm with $9 trillion assets under management (AUM), withdrew its U.S. arm, worth $6.6 trillion. State Street (4th largest with $4.1 trillion AUM), J.P. Morgan (6th largest with $3.1 trillion AUM), and PIMCO (14th largest with $1.9 trillion AUM) all withdrew entirely. However, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, Invesco, and Franklin Templeton (U.S. firms among the world’s 20 largest asset managers) are still signatories.

With the withdrawal of these four firms, CA100+ lost influence over the $15.7 trillion in assets they managed, cutting its influence by 23%.

At least in part, the withdrawals were triggered last summer, when the Steering Committee for CA100+ announced a “Phase Two” for their campaign of corporate climate activism, expected to last until 2030. “In phase two, the overarching goal is to go from words to action,” explained CA100+ Steering Committee Chairman Francois Humbert. The new phase would mean “more accountability, more transparency, more seniority.” The new guidelines would require investment managers to disclose how they vote on climate-related motions at shareholder meetings, as well as how often they lobby corporations and policymakers with their climate agenda.

When CA100+ upped the ante, several major U.S. investment firms promptly folded. BlackRock and State Street cited independence concerns, J.P. Morgan said it had developed “its own climate risk engagement framework,” while PIMCO claimed it “operates its own portfolio-relevant engagement activities with issuers on sustainability.”

In other words, these investment managers do not object to leveraging their fiduciary trust to pursue climate activism. All four of them are still doing climate activism on their own. They did object to the loss of independence of having an international organization micromanage their climate activism — how very American.

However, independence concerns over CA100+’s move to “Phase Two” does not fully explain the abrupt withdrawal of these investment management firms. After all, they still basically share CA100+’s goal of leveraging the investments they manage to advance their climate activism agenda. And these firms did decide to join CA100+ in the first place, knowing that it might inevitably lead to phases that required more action and accountability. Here, grasping the full picture requires viewing the scenery from more than one vantage point.

On March 30, 2023, 21 state attorneys general wrote a letter to the largest U.S.-based asset managers, expressing concern over their political activism and warning that such behavior could violate federal securities laws. The letter, led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen (R), specifically highlighted the CA100+ agenda as “potential unlawful coordination” to “push policies through the financial system that cannot be achieved at the ballot box.” It put investment managers on notice that “ongoing investigations” would “continue to evaluate” whether the firms were engaged in “potential unlawful coordination and other violations … as part of Climate Action 100+, Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative [NZAM], or the like.”

Woke asset managers have sustained considerable pressure from state governments in recent years, as the vast scale of their political activism became known. State officials have issued opinions declaring political activism with public funds illegal, published blacklists of politicized corporations the state won’t do business with, opposed woke companies’ purchases of public utility shares, and demonstrated the public support for doing so by winning subsequent elections.

Asset management firms are wilting before the ire of these state officials. Last summer, after 11 state governments pulled more than $5 billion in assets from his firm’s management, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink declared he was abandoning the acronym “ESG” (for left-wing “environmental, social, and governance causes) — but not the spirit. In December 2022, Vanguard (the world’s second largest asset manager, with approximately $7 trillion AUM) announced plans to withdraw from the NZAM after pressure from state governments.

The mini-exodus from CA100+ seems to be undertaken with the same goal in mind. The firms withdrawing from the climate pact haven’t abandoned their commitment to climate activism, but they would prefer not to become the next Bud Light in doing so. Re-asserting their “independence” from CA100+ frees them to evaluate the political or legal costs of any particular deed of climate activism and avoid provoking uncomfortable investigations or costly lawsuits. Even without changing their behavior, distancing themselves from the climate organization can help them avoid charges of “unlawful coordination” without distancing themselves from the climate agenda.

The backdrop to this performative calculus is that much left-wing corporate activism is neither essential nor profitable. In a 2022 survey of top executives, 59% of CEOs said they would “plan to pause or reconsider their organization’s ESG efforts” in response to a recession. That’s the sort of numbers you would expect from an optional extra — like a soft-serve machine in the breakroom. It might keep the workforce happy, and it might help mute outside criticism, but it doesn’t help a business achieve its core mission — to produce, move, or sell a product, or to provide certain services.

In the case of asset management firms, they provide the service of managing assets, in hopes of providing a better return for investors than they could obtain on their own. Climate activism is not relevant to the goal of asset management. In fact, climate activism can hamper an asset manager’s goal (obtaining the best return for his client) by forcing a company to adopt costly “green” policies that reduce its profitability and thus the profitability of assets invested in that company.

“Broadly, [federal securities] laws require you to act as a fiduciary, in the best interests of your clients and exercising due care and loyalty,” the attorneys general wrote the asset management firms. “Simply put, you are not the same as political or social activists and you should not be allowing the vast savings entrusted to you to be commandeered by activists to advance non-financial goals.” Asset management firms aren’t yet convinced of this argument and continue to pursue climate activism, but changes in their behavior indicate the pressure is having an effect.

AUTHOR

Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Disney’s DEI Policies Land Them in Court: ‘The Hit Factory Is Now the Flop Factory’

According to Bob Iger, Disney CEO, what happened on January 6 “was fundamentally wrong and … rooted in hatred … and intolerance.” In his view, that was the day Iger felt Disney needed to take “a stand” on political matters, which has been mostly rooted in the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. However, experts have highlighted the fact that these efforts have mostly backfired.

In prioritizing DEI, Disney has produced content largely centered on LGBT ideology. This agenda has caused their revenue to tank as they faced nationwide boycotts, decreased sales, and certain states pulling their investments from the Magic Kingdom. Nonetheless, Disney has insisted on prioritizing politics over profit. “The hit factory is now the flop factory,” wrote Breitbart’s John Nolte. “The trusted brand is now seen (accurately) as a threat to children’s innocence.”

Iger said he’s “very proud of the work” Disney has “done in terms of diversity and inclusion on screen.” However, Nolte pointed out that in the brand’s DEI efforts, they’ve failed to succeed in “telling a great story with appealing and relatable characters.” And not all of the pushback is based on gender politics.

America First Legal (AFL) filed a civil rights complaint against Disney on Wednesday “for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in illegal race, sex, and national origin discrimination.” According to Disney’s “Reimagine Tomorrow” website, AFL argued that there is a strong suggestion “that race, color, religion, sex, or national origin are often the only motivating factor in Disney’s hiring, training, and promotion decisions.” As such, they noted “the company is intentionally discriminating against white American men, Christians, and Jews simply because of their race, sex, religion, and citizenship.”

AFL President Stephen Miller said, “It is sad and tragic that a company whose name was once synonymous with wholesome and charming childhood fantasies is now dedicated to spreading divisive bigotry. We urge Disney to cease and desist its unlawful and destructive conduct at once.”

Referring to Disney’s goal of hiring 50% of its directors from “underrepresented groups,” the complaint stated, “It is patently unlawful to consider racial, ethnic, and sex-based characteristics in hiring, training, compensation, and promotion.” It continued, “Decades of case law have held that policies that impose racial balancing or quotas in employment, training, or recruitment, such as those presented on Disney’s websites, are prohibited.”

As Nolte pointed out, “Disney went from one of the most universally beloved and trusted brands — a company that produced one-billion-dollar blockbuster after another — into a failing propaganda outlet no decent parent would allow their children near.”

Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” commented to The Washington Stand, “Disney and its leadership — its executives and board — have gone out of their way to ensure that politics takes priority over conventional business interests.”

Concerning the decisions Disney has made in recent years and whether they will alter their path, Soukup said, “Despite acknowledging their disconnect between their ideology and their customer base in SEC documents, they still seem unable or unwilling to change course. The evidence shows that CEO Bob Iger has been driving much of this, while the company’s board of directors has rewarded him with a lavish pay increase, even in the face of his failures.”

Ultimately, Soukup pointed out, “any change in the company’s positions will have to come from shareholders.” Which, he concluded, “short of a shareholder rebellion — approval on non-management approved board candidates, for example — it’s difficult to see Disney’s leaders doing what needs to be done to get back to something approximating neutral, to putting business ahead of politics.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Airlines Prioritize Wokeness Over Safety: But at What Cost?

My dad is a certified physician assistant. As such, he often shares spontaneous medical advice with me (although part of that is just because he’s my dad and cares about my wellbeing.) For instance, some advice he’s given me that he would give to anyone is if you or someone you know needs surgery or a medical procedure, be sure to ask the doctor in charge two questions: “How many times have you performed this operation? And when was the last time you did it?”

According to my dad, these questions are crucial to ask because you want to make sure you can fully trust the person who’s handling your safety and survival. And that can be said about nearly anything, right? The fear of flying, for instance, is extremely common. But I’m sure more people will come to feel the same as the pilots and airlines responsible for passenger safety and survival are increasingly untrustworthy.

Last week, an Alaska Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing after loose parts caused a portion of the plane’s body to blow off less than 20 minutes after takeoff. Passengers on that flight were terrified, and many thought they were “going to die.” Thankfully, there were no casualties, and even the boy closest to the danger was left relatively unharmed. Some, perhaps, consider it a miracle.

But here’s the reality: “To an incredibly dangerous extent,” wrote Daily Wire host Matt Walsh, “The airline industry is in the process of actively making itself less competent and reliable.” But why? It’s simple. The airline industry is prioritizing wokeness — in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — over safety and qualified personnel.

If your grandfather needed heart surgery, you want to know, as much as humanly possible, that you can trust the cardiothoracic surgeon holding the life of your loved one in their hands. Yes, tragedies do still occur sometimes, but the difference is taking every precaution you can up to that point. This same concept should apply to the pilots flying hundreds of people across oceans and continents. Pilots are very much responsible for the lives of those on board. And yet, airlines such as United and Alaska have decided their priorities must be fixated on skin color.

United, Alaska, and other airlines aren’t focused on hiring qualified individuals — those who not only received their pilot license, but truly earned it. Instead, these airlines only seem to care about what their employees look like. Or as Walsh put it, “[I]n their various public statements and press releases, United Airlines has made it very clear that they’re mainly interested in hiring pilots on the basis of skin color and gender, rather than competence.”

I find it hard to fathom that a staple in the industry, Boeing, cares more about scoring perfectly on tests that evaluate LGBT policies than whether their aircrafts are equipped to take off without crashing. Which, by the way, Boeing did score perfectly on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2023 Corporate Equality Index. Oh, and so did American, Southwest, Alaska, and some 545 other businesses. And while not everyone scored perfectly on their radical gender and sexuality quiz, most airlines at least share the same DEI goals. But at what cost?

The trend seems to be that any time woke principles are prioritized, people get hurt — physically or mentally. The transgender movement is a perfect example. Minors are told they’re born in the wrong body, and that the puberty they’re experiencing is actually a sign to defy basic biology. So, they proceed with the hormone blockers and the “gender-affirming care.” So-called medical professionals sign off on double mastectomies and testosterone for healthy teenage girls. And in the end, they suffer the consequences of constant pain, rashes, and infections for the rest of their lives.

Too often, it’s permanent, life-changing damage. It’s heartbreaking. And that’s the reality of prioritizing wokeness: It destroys lives. And the companies like Boeing thatemphasizing wokeness over safety will perhaps, sooner or later, be responsible for ending lives. That is, if they continue to hire pilots who don’t know how to fly and engineers who don’t know how to build.

Paul Fitzpatrick, president of 1792 Exchange, shared with The Washington Stand, “It’s time to free Boeing from their captivity to political activist groups so they can get back to building safe and innovative aircraft. Distractions are many at Boeing when they are pleasing and funding divisive and extreme ideologies.”

He continued, “To score 100% on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, Boeing allowed a political stakeholder to dictate policies on personnel, marketing, operations, and lobbying. Whether it is that issue set, divisive DEI policies, or climate extremism, Boeing should reject stakeholder capitalism and return their financial and mental focus to hiring the most qualified talent to produce the safest airplanes possible.”

To Boeing and all other companies who have misplaced priorities, Fitzpatrick reiterated, “[T]heir duty [is] to shareholders and customers. They must get back to business.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Hallmark Leans into LGBT Content, Vows More ‘Inclusion’ in 2024

It’s been Christmas since July on the Hallmark Channel, but viewers got their first taste of the network’s woke holiday programming Saturday. With the debut of “Christmas on Cherry Lane,” management made it abundantly clear that the “heart of TV” will continue to push the LGBT envelope — despite America’s towering wave of pushback. Unlike other companies who’ve reckoned with the shifting consumer tides, Hallmark has no plans to change course. And their refusal to read the room could cost them.

Television’s home for clean, predictable, and endearing romance had already faced an internal revolt in 2020 with the departure of longtime CEO Bill Abbott. Frustrated by the company’s decision to take Hallmark in a more progressive direction, Abbott left to form Great American Family — a booming entertainment alternative that’s been TV’s “fastest growing network” in 2023. With total viewers up 150%, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Hallmark has its hands full keeping its share of the market.

But instead of returning to the family-friendly formula that made Crown Media the titan of tinsel, Hallmark has decided to go even further down the rabbit hole, embracing an agenda that most American consumers have flatly rejected. According to the company’s executive vice president of programming, Lisa Hamilton Daly, 2024 will be the most “diverse” yet.

In an interview with The Wrap December 8, Daly explained how the writers’ strike complicated things for their annual Countdown to Christmas. “We started preparing for [the strike] last October,” she told reporter Loree Seitz. “I don’t think we understood how long the actors would be on strike, but I was aware that we’d have a writers’ strike, so we started to push our partners to deliver stuff a little early (and) for a large number of our shows, we were able to produce early.”

That foresight spared the company a lot of turmoil (they produced 42 original movies), but it also prompted their teams to get a head-start on the 2024 line-up. Most of next year’s projects, Daly explained, have already been decided. And big changes are afoot.

“Inclusivity” will be a “core goal” going forward, Seitz gleaned from their conversation. “We really want people to be able to see themselves in our movies, and we know that people seeing themselves means that there’s a wider range of people who really are excited when we tell their stories,” Daly explained. Those include more “queer-forward” movies like “Christmas on Cherry Lane” and the lesbian romance “Friends & Family Christmas,” airing December 17.

Ali Liebert, who identifies as lesbian and stars in “Friends & Family Christmas,” is one of the budding producers Hallmark is counting on to bring the company more LGBTQ representation. “As I move forward as a producer and hopefully director,” Liebert said, “I’m focusing on — really taking the opportunity to create queer content.”

The network has also tapped into a growing bench of LGBT-identifying actors and actresses, including the first non-binary star to appear on camera. “The opportunity to play Suzette in ‘The Secrets of Bella Vista,’” Donia Kash explained, “taught my hard shell of a heart that I am moving through this particular world that easily expresses love and the importance of family on the screen,” Kash stated. “To allow the queer community see themselves thriving out there in this world.”

George Krissa, who was the lead in Hallmark’s first gay feature film, “A Holiday Sitter,” last Christmas, cheered the growing slate of LGBT content. “If you watch the Countdown to Christmas this year, there’s LGBTQ folks all over the place,” he said of the 2023 line-up. Even in storylines not centered around same-sex attraction, actors like Jonathan Bennett, applaud Hallmark for giving them an opportunity to be “authentically queer.” “To be a part of this movement that is making sure that people watching these amazing Christmas movies feel like they’re represented on-screen … is so important.”

“Next year, Hamilton Daly said, Hallmark fans can expect a renewed dedication to even greater diversity in the network’s programming. But no matter the cast or storyline, she said, the thread that connects all of its projects will continue to be love,” Seitz wrote.

As for concerns that she may be alienating audiences with such an overt agenda, Daly seems blasé. “Every change we think about,” she told Vulture, “we center it by asking, ‘Does this stay true to the mission of a purpose-driven life of love, of emotion, of family?’ So we’re just trying to find different ways to tell stories that are still centered on those characteristics.”

But the market is changing, along with what Americans will tolerate. And yet Hallmark may not care, Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm pointed out, because “progressivism increasingly prides itself on not being in touch with the average American. … And while the recent experiences of Bud Light, Disney, and Target indicates Hallmark will drive off customers and lose money by placing greater priority on ‘diversity,’ their worldview teaches them those customers should not be given consideration given their grave moral deficiencies. They are modern, secular puritans. Will it cost them money? Maybe,” he told The Washington Stand, “but many of them don’t care…”

In February, Daly took a swipe at their biggest rival, chalking up the public feud over Great American Family’s refusal to feature same-sex couples to Abbott’s desperation for attention. “That’s what they needed to get press,” the content maven claimed. “And we just decided, this is not our story. This is their story, and whatever they’re doing — they’re shadowboxing at this point. … We wanted to define ourselves on our own terms, and we wanted to let our programming speak for itself about where we sat in that debate.”

And it continues to. But unfortunately for Daly, what her programming is saying is that Hallmark doesn’t understand its audience. As more viewers flock to GAF, Abbott is drawing an even starker contrast with the competition. The meaning of the season is “Jesus’ birth,” Abbott insisted in an interview last week. “It’s gotten so lost in the secular world of what the real meaning of Christmas is.” His goal is to change that.

Now, with an ever-expanding talent pool (many of them popular Hallmark alums), he says, “I would put our Christmas movies up against anybody else’s. … It’s about telling great stories that inspire,” Abbott insisted. And “they may all end in a kiss, but they are different, and they are not going to be the same experience over two hours, because they’re going to incorporate the spirit of the season, which is faith and family” — two things, the CEO argues, that most of Hollywood is “denigrating.” While Hallmark veers off the path that made them a holiday staple, Abbott is vowing to “try really hard to reinforce those values.”

In their early months, Daly waved off GAF, insisting, “their ratings speak for themselves.” These days, that’s exactly what should concern her.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Progressive Christianity: Why Is It Increasing and What Can be Done?

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Americans Put the Holiday Hurt on Disney, Target, Others as Boycotts Bleed into Christmas

When Disney CEO Bob Iger sat down to talk with employees about his bumpy year at the helm Tuesday, he said, “I knew there were myriad challenges that I would face.” What he didn’t count on was those “myriad challenges” being millions of still-angry Americans. After management ran the brand into the ground over a popular parental rights’ law last year, nothing seems to be rehabilitating the company’s image. Even the second coming of Iger, who was behind the wheel for some of Disney’s best chapters, hasn’t brought back the magic for consumers. Now, staring down a holiday season with crashing stocks, box office losers, and even less goodwill, will Iger stop riding this polarized express?

Experts have their doubts. Stephen Soukup, who’s spent years analyzing Disney’s radical evolution, worries that as long as Iger is in charge, the right lessons won’t be learned. Still, the author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital” was encouraged by last week’s news that Disney was at least admitting that it was on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to their extreme LGBT advocacy.

In its annual report to the Security and Exchange Commission, management conceded that they “face risks relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes for entertainment, travel and consumer products, which impact demand for our entertainment offerings and products and the profitability of any of our businesses.”

“What they’re saying,” Soukup translated, “is that their values differed from what the values of their expected audience are — and that’s a big deal,” he underscored on “Washington Watch.” “For a long time, Disney has professed to be the arbiter of values. And it turns out that the American public said, ‘No thanks. We’re not interested in allowing you to tell us what we should or should not believe. We’re not interested in having you inculcate our children in what they should believe, and we’re not going to spend our hard-earned money rewarding you for trying to do so.’”

But is that enough to force them back to neutrality on an agenda that includes, among other shockers, the open “queering” of children? “It should be,” Soukup agreed. “I think Disney faces a couple of very serious problems in trying to recover from this ‘misalignment,’” he explained. “The first of these is the fact that it’s in the business of selling values. You know, storytellers from Aesop to Jesus to the Grimm Brothers all the way forward, have been in the business of using storytelling to transmit values and virtues from one generation to the next, and that’s the business that Disney [is] in. If its values and virtues do not align with the public, then it becomes a serious problem. It’s not as if they can simply say, ‘You know what? … We’re going to take politics and social policy out of our films. We’re no longer going to tell stories that have values.’ I mean, that’s the business they’re in. They have to tell stories that have morals. They tell stories that are intended to transmit values from one generation to the next. And that makes it very difficult.”

The second problem, Soukup insisted, is the guy at the top of the food chain: Iger himself. The two-time CEO, who was behind the wheel of Disney’s woke transformation from 2005 on, is the author of a lot of the extremist tendencies that got his company in hot water in the first place. And while there were some who thought Iger would find a way to rein in Disney’s activism, the last 12 months have given them zero reason for hope. “Disney is a political organization because of Bob Iger,” Soukup insisted.

“This didn’t start this year. It didn’t start in Florida. It didn’t start with Governor Ron DeSantis. As I note in my book, ‘The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,’ Bob Iger has been fighting a political battle, particularly against conservatives, for at least the last decade. He’s fought the battle in North Carolina. He’s fought the battle in Georgia. He’s fought the battle in Florida. This is something that he believes firmly in. And the fight against Governor DeSantis in Florida that made so much news over the last several months was, in fact, Bob Iger’s doing.”

“If you look at what Disney has said about when it decided to get involved,” the vice president of the Political Forum continued, “it was when Bob Iger emailed the then-current leadership and said, ‘We have to do something about this law in Florida. We can’t sit idly by and allow this to happen.’ And what Disney decided to do was fire [CEO] Bob Chapek and bring back Bob Iger. So I think Disney has two serious problems. Their business model is one of selling values. And the man who runs the company is an aggressively and overtly political player.”

And it’s not just Disney who’s thumbing their nose at shareholders. Target, Bud Light, Starbucks, Nike, and a slew of other companies made a very intentional corporate calculation to prioritize politics over profits. “In order for any of these businesses that have been punished by the public over the last year for being political, in order for any of them to make any headway in winning back their customers, they first have to get it,” Soukup emphasized. “It’s become clear, for example, that Target does not get it. That Target does not understand why its customers left it behind, why its customers got upset, why its customers started to boycott, and that they’re doubling down on the tactics that in fact alienated [people].”

While Target CEO Brian Cornell talks a good game, telling investors, “We are firmly focused on getting back to growth,” shelves of rainbow Santas and the hire of a senior-level Pride Lead say otherwise. “It was bad enough when they decided to politicize and sexualize the month of June,” Soukup said, “… but now they’re doing very much the same to Christmas. Their Christmas displays are reportedly very aggressively sexualized and very aggressively politicized. And that is a demonstration of the fact that the management of Target doesn’t understand or is unwilling to accept the verdict delivered to it by the public.” Until they do, they’re “courting the wrath of both customers and shareholders,” he insisted.

Maybe these Fortune 500 companies thought this wave of consumer activism rocking the country was a fad, that it would just blow over, and we’d all return to business as usual. But, as the latest quarterly reports for TargetDisney, and Bud Light prove, Americans’ outrage has staying power. At a time when retail sales are up, these trans-embracing giants are underwater.

“I think the public is exhausted with politics being everywhere and in everything. It’s not that Target is left-wing. It’s not that Bud Light embraced left-wing values. It’s not that Disney is liberal. They are,” Soukup said. “… But that’s not the point. The point is that people are tired of having politics shoved down their throat at every possible occasion. They’re just exhausted with the whole thing, and it’s not something that’s going to go away as long as they keep doing this. This is something that the public is going to react to negatively.”

And while these businesses can survive a good bit of public pressure, “The question is, how long does management survive?” Soukup asked. “How long do the boards and the shareholders agree to keep Bob Iger on, for example, if he doesn’t get it — if he continues to pursue the agenda that got Disney into trouble in the first place? … He may have built Disney into a giant entertainment company, and he may be the nicest man in entertainment, as everybody says. But … eventually, the Disney board and Disney shareholders are going to get tired of what he’s doing and his inability to recognize that he’s a big part of the problem.”

For now, the biggest takeaway is that Americans are finally sending a message companies can’t ignore. Sure, some CEOs will stubbornly carry on, willing to kamikaze their brands for radical causes, but there are plenty of rational executives who see the writing on the wall.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the general zeitgeist in American business is to depoliticize as much as possible at this point,” Soukup pointed out. “Sometimes that’s going to be very difficult, given positions that have been taken just in the last three, four, five years. But I think that a great many executives and managers have seen just how potent customer reaction can be.” And that’s a significant change from decades past.

“It used to be the case that nobody feared conservative consumers very much because conservative boycotts always failed. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think that even though these are not organized boycotts, they have been very effective — and they have certainly sent a message to the companies that have been affected and to others who might go down that same road. … To use The Godfather analogy, these guys are Luca Brasi [sleeping] with the fishes. They’re the warning to the rest of business that if you push this too far, you will end up the same way. So I think that what we’re starting to see among a great many corporate leaders is a desire simply to get out of the politics business.”

Whether Disney ever wakes up and joins them is anyone’s guess. Until then, Soukup advises, make the most of this Christmas season: “Vote with your dollars and invest with your dollars.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Companies like McDonalds and Starbucks Become another Front of the Israeli Conflict

As officers stood outside the Texas Capitol Thursday evening, waves of people flooded the area for rallies. One group was clad in black, white, green, and red — the colors of Palestine — and the other with white and blue, standing for Israel. While no violence broke out between the two groups, it was a clear demonstration of the increasing division around the world caused by the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

In Israel, a McDonalds has given away thousands of free meals to support Israel Defense Forces soldiers (IDF). They posted on Instagram, “[W]e donated 4,000 meals to hospitals and military units, we intend to donate thousands of meals every day to soldiers in the field and in drafting areas.” While it has received support and praise for its generosity, some have expressed their disapproval of McDonalds’ support for Israel and have called for people to boycott.

In America alone, there have been several marches celebrating Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Israel. Somewhat surprisingly, there are a significant number of voices openly supporting the terrorism taking place, including Black Lives Matter, various lawmakers, as well as progressive students across college campuses. However, a CNN poll revealed there is far more support for Israel than what may meet the eye.

Despite the large number of anti-Semitic protests, the poll reported 71% of Americans “harbor deep sympathy for Israelis,” with at least 50% indicating that they believe Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks is “fully justified.” Twenty percent see it as “partially justified,” and 21% are uncertain, with only 8% claiming it is “not justified at all.” The report also noted that 96% of Americans “express at least some sympathy” regarding the October 7 attacks.

Meanwhile, members of Starbucks Workers United, a worker-led labor union, expressed support of terror attacks on Israel on Instagram. Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) shared on X, “Every American should condemn the atrocities that Iran-backed Hamas terrorists committed in Israel. Boycott Starbucks until its leadership strongly denounces and takes action against this horrific support of terrorism.” And the call to boycott is spreading. Starbucks has denounced the sentiments of the union, stating that they “do not represent the company’s views, positions or beliefs.”

As further example to the backlash pro-Hamas groups are receiving, according to Breitbart, BBC News is “under fire” for reporters who have “praise[d] Hamas terror attacks on Israel.” The British new network has a history of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content, and now face criticism for their unwillingness to call Hamas terrorists. For instance, a recent BBC article titled “What is Hamas?” dodged the term “terrorist” by saying “Palestinian militant group.” BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson shared, “It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn — who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.”

In response, groups across the U.S. and even the British government are standing up against BBC’s apparent anti-Semitism. Robert Jenrick, the United Kingdom Minister for Immigration, stated, “Let us be clear what the world has witnessed. These weren’t, as some in the media say, ‘militants’ or ‘fighters.’ They were terrorists. They were murderers.”

As the Christian Post’s Michael Brown concluded, “At this moment in history, the first thing that must be done is for all of us to stand together, Muslim and Christian and Jew (and people of other religions and non-religions), Israeli and Palestinian alike, and say, ‘What Hamas did is outright, unjustifiable evil. Plain and simple. We denounce it.’”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Huge Mistake’: Anheuser-Busch and Other Brands Continue to Face Worldwide Boycott

The year 2023 has been full of breaking news stories and madcap headlines. So far, it has entailed a bank collapse, four indictments of a former president, an AI revolution, investigations into the weaponization of the federal government, Hunter Biden’s controversial business dealings, and the list goes on.

In the midst of the political frenzy, one story continues to take the front page as more details are uncovered: the national boycott of several woke companies. The most recent development in this saga includes influential heirs and publications pointing out how far these companies have drifted from the values established by their founders.

Anheuser-Busch was the first to face a national boycott after Bud Light partnered with trans-identifying activist Dylan Mulvaney, ultimately costing the beer company $395 million in North America alone. Soon after, Target, Levi Strauss, Starbucks, and Sports Illustrated “decided to follow transgender advocacy straight to financial insolvency.” Although one would say that the ultimate goal of these retailers is to provide goods and services in exchange for currency, some experts argue that their priorities have shifted.

“Nothing big changes quickly. Corporations started caring more about virtue signaling than serving customers when they started to be led by people who cared more about virtue signaling than serving customers,” Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview, told The Washington Stand. “It’s just a fixation with feelings caused by a lack of adult leadership.”

With the collapse of Anheuser-Busch still in full swing, Billy Busch — the great-grandson of Adolphus Busch — weighed in on what he thinks his ancestors would have to say about the direction the company has taken.

“I think my family, my ancestors, would have rolled over in their graves,” he said. “They believed that transgender, gays, that sort of thing was all a very personal issue. They loved this country because it is a free country and people are allowed to do what they want, but it was never meant to be on a beer can and never meant to be pushed in people’s faces.”

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Busch noted that his family “wouldn’t have ever gotten as political as this.” He said that his family lived by the motto “making friends is our business,” which entailed bringing people together, making for a fun drinking experience. He later added, “people that drink Bud Light — that drink beer — really don’t relate to that kind of advertising,” calling the Dylan Mulvaney partnership “a huge mistake.”

As Anheuser-Busch sales continue to plummet over their LGBT advocacy, another massive corporation has walked away from their foundational values, also resulting in a financial crash.

Disney was next to be pummeled by the boycott wave, eventually resulting in the entertainment behemoth taking a monetary beating earlier this year. Not only did two of their recent films, “Lightyear” and “Strange World,” cost them $258 million, but Disney’s “crowds are getting smaller” this summer. Management’s ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has also proven unsuccessful, as they recently announced the cancellation of their $1 billion construction complex in Florida. Some are attributing their recent downfall to their woke, political agenda, which contradicts the founder’s values.

“Roy and Walt Disney would be shocked to see how Disney’s values have changed, which I believe is the foundation of Disney’s downward spiral in the last few years,” Melissa Henson wrote in an opinion piece published by The Washington Times. “Disney’s shift over the past few years — from broken promises about keeping R-rated content off Disney+ to content that sexualizes children — may have a lot to do with the company’s dismal performance these last several months.”

While speculations have been made as to why so many corporations have been abandoned this year, Backholm addressed the morality of boycotting from a Christian perspective.

“When it comes to boycotting, I think Christians are prohibited from encouraging evil. It’s hard to know where that line is because we live in a sin-filled world, and you can’t ever escape connections to it. But if we become convinced that one action is likely to lead to evil, we can’t take that action.” Ultimately, Backholm concluded, “We should all have a line that we are unwilling to cross.”

AUTHOR

Abigail Olsson

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Public Sq., RedBalloon Step in to Help Laid Off Bud Light Workers Find Jobs

The 350 casualties of Bud Light’s July layoffs may not have to look far for new employment. After the beer company was forced to slash its workforce over the ongoing boycott, conservative marketplace Public Sq. is stepping in to help the hundreds who lost their jobs by connecting them with “non-woke businesses.”

Company CEO and founder Michael Seifert announced the idea in an open letter. Acknowledging the hardship that comes with losing a job, Seifert said, “We started our business to help people like you. The growing progressive politicization of our economy hurts Americans in so many different ways, and it’s time we take a stand against it.”

RedBalloon, working in tandem with PublicSq., tweeted the same open letter, insisting, “No one should lose their job because of woke ideologies or agendas, and so we want to help.” RedBalloon Communications Director Isaac Lopez told The Washington Stand, “We have had several submit their resumés, and we are actively working with our partner Public Sq. to place them. We want to help workers find jobs with companies that value hard-working Americans.”

A former Bud Light employee was elated by the post. “I got laid off by them. Going to sign up.” Lopez noted how the positive responses were encouraging and said that tens of thousands had already applied. He added that those who use RedBalloon “are looking for freedom in the workplace … And that’s what we hope to offer to these laid-off Bud Light employees.”

On “Washington Watch” Friday, Seifert explained that companies are learning the hard way that political extremism doesn’t pay. “Unfortunately, they are facing the harsh and very real consequences of taking a bad bet on ESG and DEI wokeism. And we throw around this phrase, ‘Go woke, go broke,’ [but] it is real. There are actual consequences to your bottom line, to your employees, to your distributors, to lots of people caught in the middle when your company decides to act more like a progressive political association and organization rather than a business that is focused on simply providing quality to your customers and shareholders. … [And] Bud Light now has dropped over $20 billion in their value.”

After the news broke that 350 people were now jobless as a result of Anheuser-Busch’s transgender outreach, Seifert said, “[w]e felt really inspired to try to help those that had been stuck in all of this crossfire. … [T]hey were, unfortunately, the ones that were facing the brunt of that poor marketing decision. And now they’re out of work. We wanted to help them.” Together with RedBalloon, which Seifert called “a non-woke jobs marketplace,” they put out a call for resumés.

The idea was to distribute those resumés to their combined network of “well over 55,000 small businesses that love the country, the Constitution, and the values that it protects.” Pretty soon, Seifert told guest host Jody Hice, “We got a bunch of resumés [Thursday], because that open letter now has — already in 24 hours — been viewed over 2.5 million times on Twitter.”

He talked to one former Bud Light employee personally, and when he asked about her experience, “She said, ‘I just feel heartbroken that the brand that I’ve dedicated years of my life to would decide to forgo their responsibility of providing a quality product and would instead embrace these policies that hurt us the most.’ And we’re excited to get to work to get her a job.”

Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm applauded Seifert for turning a negative into a “non-woke” positive. “But the fact that a ‘non-woke’ marketplace needs to exist is a comment on the current moment we’re living in. There’s a ton of pressure on corporations to use their influence to promote harmful ideas. In this case, that has cost hundreds of people their jobs as companies discover that there is a limit to how much social justice preaching the marketplace will tolerate.”

AUTHORS

Sarah Holliday 

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Pride Messaging Down 40% from 2022 as Boycotts Explode

It was a normal Wednesday commute, crawling across the 14th Street Bridge with thousands of other frustrated D.C. drivers — until out the corner of my eye, I saw the metro glide across the tracks next to us. There, suspended above the Potomac, were eight cars — all wrapped in transgender and rainbow flags — speeding into the most powerful city in the world. Even now, weeks into this contrived celebration, it was a jarring picture of how insufferable the Pride movement has become. Deep into June, you can’t blame Americans for wondering: When will this train of extremism end?

Like me, Free Republic’s Kristinn Taylor was annoyed to see that even commuters can’t escape the LGBT oversaturation. “DC Metro cars [have] transformed into rolling ‘Pride’ struggle sessions,” she protested on Twitter. And according to a new poll, she’s not alone. Pride fatigue is real, The Trafalgar Group found, and it’s across the board.

In a new survey, Robert Cahaly’s group asked more than 1,000 people (who leaned Democratic by 4%) if they’re sick of the public LGBT pandering. A whopping 62% said yes, they just wished companies would stay neutral. Only 23% think corporations should continue on with their extreme political themes.

Equally as damning — at least for the CEOs still clinging to their offensive activism (think NikeTargetKohl’s) — are the massive swaths of consumers who are avoiding leftist brands. While 41% of all voters say they’ve “personally boycotted a company that took a public stance on a cultural or political issue they disagree with,” almost 70% are Republicans, who’ve refused to shop with “progressive” businesses. Forty percent of non-affiliated voters admitted to doing the same.

That’s a sizeable gap in pushback compared to Democrats, who are much less likely (45%) to punish “conservative or MAGA-leaning” businesses. Interestingly, 14% of Joe Biden’s party admitted to joining Republicans in abandoning overly woke companies — a surprisingly high cross-over rate that shows just how much radical CEOs have overplayed their hand on issues like transgenderism.

And the farther we get into June, the more intense the backlash has become. Shoppers everywhere have made punching bags out of Bud Light and Target — forcing several of American brands to reconsider just how much capital they’re willing to sacrifice. As the losses to those brands dip into the multi-billions, there’s a growing sense that businesses are getting the message.

According to Bloomberg, brands are dramatically toning down their Pride promotion from last year. In the wake of the Dylan Mulvaney scandal in April, “references to ‘Pride Month’ in filings, presentations and transcripts from April to June at more than 900 of the largest US companies dropped almost 40% from this time last year, the first decline in five years. Other LGBTQ terms showed similar declines, the analysis found.”

That’s a seismic shift for the U.S. market and an enormous victory for grassroots Americans who’ve finally put their dollars where their values are. As Dr. Ben Carson said on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch,” these big brands have finally been forced to reevaluate their purpose — and, just as importantly, their loyalties. “Corporate America has a very important purpose, and that is to reward their stockholders. Now, they can’t necessarily do that if they have another agenda — like being social manipulators. And I think they’re starting to recognize that. And I’m glad to see also that the people are pushing back.”

The Bud Light disaster, Target’s trans outreach, “all of these things,” Carson pointed out, “are wake-up calls for corporate America to get back to doing what they’re supposed to be doing and stop meddling. You know, one of the reasons that our country was established is because people wanted to come to a place where they could live the life that they wanted to live without it being manipulated and without all kinds of mandates. And whether those mandates come from the government or from corporate America, they still have a deleterious effect on the freedoms that people experience.”

“And the only people who can change that is we the people. … We have to put our foot down and say, this is America. This is where we are free to live the way that we want to, to worship the way we want to, to say what we want to say. And we’re not going to stand for government or corporate America to try to dictate [what we think and believe].”

No one has been in that bullseye more than Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth, who called the crashing and burning of his brand a “challenging few weeks” on Fox. And while he has yet to apologize for the firestorm that Bud Light started by embracing transgenderism, he does accept the blame for the devastating consequences of that decision. “We have to understand the impact that it’s had … on our employees, the impact on our consumers, and as well the impact on our partners,” he said. “One thing I’d love to make extremely clear is that impact is my responsibility and as the CEO, everything we do here I’m accountable for.”

“There’s a big social conversation taking place right now,” Whitworth acknowledged, “and big brands are right in the middle of it. And it’s not just our industry or Bud Light. It’s happening in retail, happening in fast food. And so for us, what we need to understand is — deeply understand and appreciate — is the consumer and what they want, what they care about and what they expect from big brands.”

What they expect, the polls have shown since 2021, is neutrality. When a good 40% of your consumer base ups and walks away, there should be plenty of motivation for corporations to sit down and rethink their politics.

“Most Americans respond to relentless, preachy marketing from businesses trying to virtue signal their progressive bona fides like they respond to street preachers thumping a Bible,” Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm told The Washington Stand. “But the LGBTQ movement, like the street preacher, doesn’t care because they have simply decided anyone who rejects their message is going to hell. The LGBT movement has become what they claim to hate, but they haven’t recognized it yet.”

In the meantime, what they and everyone else can’t help but recognize is Americans’ buying power. May it continue to be the bridle that holds the woke in check.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Republicans Spurn Corporate Donations as Woke Backlash Continues

It looks like everyday Americans aren’t the only ones boycotting Big Business. While companies take a beating for their woke policies in stores and restaurants across the country, another longtime ally has flat-out walked away: the GOP. More than two years after January 6, when CEOs made a spectacle out of cutting donations to Republicans, corporate America is facing an uncomfortable reality — the GOP wouldn’t take their money now anyway.

Back in 2021, people wondered if the relationship between Republicans and America’s business community would survive the spat. Was the post-election tension just a rough patch or the beginning of a “seismic shift?” Today, as red states go to war with titans like BlackRock and governors openly battle Disney and JP Morgan, the split has never seemed more permanent. And, unlike the timid GOP of the past, the Republican Party’s warrior class seems no worse for wear. If anything, ridding themselves of a two-timing corporate America has made the GOP stronger and more independent than ever.

Just this week, The Wall Street Journal shined a light on the enormous realignment that’s taken place where campaign dollars are concerned. When the mob pulled their contributions from the GOP, it sounded like a death knell for fundraising. On the contrary, experts say. That decision actually helped Republicans wean themselves off corporate dollars and tap into the grassroots’ frustration against woke CEOs.

“Republicans are now less dependent on corporate and industry PACs than at any time in the past three decades,” according to the WSJ analysis. “Instead, they are turning to smaller donations from millions of individuals who tend to be wary of big-businesses priorities.” And while the donations usually come in small denominations, the sheer number of people giving to the conservative cause is offsetting the punch that corporate America thought they had.

“Gone are the days that Republicans are going to sit on the sidelines as big behemoths take advantage of the American people,” Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told the Journal. “We are going to hold them accountable.”

One of the most dramatic examples of this shift is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) war chest. In 2016, the Journal’s Brody Mullins points out, 40% of his campaign dollars came from business PACs. By 2022, it was less than 3%. Now, without those financial ties, he’s even more free to “castigate Wall Street for taking progressive political stands.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who’s been outspoken about his frustration with Big Business, couldn’t be happier about the disentanglement. “I don’t see any reason to take a dime from these folks,” he said. “I’m not going to be beholden in any way to their agenda.” For too long, he argued, corporate America has “attempt[ed] to have it both ways. [They will] endorse these far-Left social policies, they will try to blackmail [red] states… but then they’ll turn around and come to Republicans asking for tax breaks, tax credits, and trade deals.” Good luck with that now, conservatives say.

If they’re going to attack our values, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “They probably shouldn’t come and ask Republican senators to carry the water for them whenever our Democratic friends want to regulate them or block their mergers.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins couldn’t agree more. “Until America’s business community embraces — or at least stops attacking — the moral and social structure that leads to growth,” he wrote last year, “the Left can have them. And then, when their revenues implode because of the Left’s regulations and their profits evaporate over the Democrats’ tax-and-spend politics, maybe Big Business will come to their senses and realize how good they and their stockholders once had it.”

Not only has that extremism driven away GOP officials, it’s also triggered an unprecedented wave of consumer backlash across the country — a wave so devastating to brands’ bottom lines that CEOs are privately telling McCarthy they’re “doing their best to avoid speaking publicly about such topics.” Others are racing to rethink their political involvement, especially on the transgender issue that has become such “a lightning rod” for American consumers.

Now, as the number of citizens who call themselves “social conservatives” rockets up to 38%, CEOs will have even more incentive to tone down their activism.

Taken together, FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter warns, it doesn’t bode well for the Left and their woke allies. “Much has been said about the trend of working-class voters moving toward the GOP — and rightfully so. It’s changing American politics dramatically. As we saw in the most recent midterm elections, Republicans won non-college voters 54% to 42%, and Democrats won voters with college degrees 53% to 44%. This wasn’t always the case. Traditionally, union voters and working-class voters were firmly within the Democrat base. Making up 58% of the overall electorate, you can see how these voters are a juggernaut in American politics.”

“Given this shift,” Carpenter told The Washington Stand, “it makes sense that we would see the GOP move away from large corporate PACs as a result. The interests advanced by these PACs often do not represent the interests of this emerging working-class GOP. This will have huge ramifications in the years to come as GOP politicians are influenced more and more by small dollar donations from the grassroots rather than high-dollar fundraisers at fancy restaurants in Washington, D.C.”

In the meantime, the grassroots are proving to everyone to everyone: they’re a much bigger force to be reckoned with than Big Business.

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.