Now is the perfect opportunity to vote with your wallet.
Much has been made of the ongoing “Culture War”. It’s a series of (usually) low-intensity skirmishes over any number of social issues, and it usually goes something like this: a corporation politically postures for the cameras, promoting this or that ideology, boycotts ensue, and the country is split accordingly.
The posturing is usually in favor of the political left. A few years back, Gillette released a now-infamous ad, wherein they chastised men for hypothetical sexism that their customers were apparently guilty of or were likely to engage in. Conservatives were rightly put off by the corporate condescension, while liberals were impressed with the multi-million dollar brand's commitment to Do Something™. Around the same time, the company was under scrutiny for alleged price discrimination, for charging more for womens’ razors - a “pink tax". Was the sudden posturing meant to draw attention away from the pricing controversy and win the approval of easily-impressed limousine liberals? I can’t say for sure (but the answer is yes).
Gillette is only one example. Nominally “conservative” companies are not exactly immune from the left's social pressure either. In August 2020, during a season of far left riots that saw several dozen deaths, countless injuries, and over 2 billion dollars in property damage, most corporations of note were quick to announce their unwavering support for the peaceful but mostly fiery protests. Americans were reassured that the sweatshop profiteers at Nike and the child labor beneficiaries at Mars Inc were committed to Social Justice™. The town of Kenosha saw perhaps the most recognizable flash point of the entire riot season. Acting in self defense, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three rioters, killing two and seriously wounding one. It just so happened that each of the three rioters had a significant criminal record, with Joseph Rosenbaum's record being especially unspeakable.
Conservatives quickly and rightly rallied to the defense of Rittenhouse, but the same could not be said for Black Rifle Coffee Company, a self-professed pro-2nd Amendment company. BRCC has built its entire image on corny, insincere Patriot Chic, and that insincerity was made clear when they were quick to inform the world that no, they have no relation to Kyle Rittenhouse. There was never much evidentiary ambiguity in the case, as the trial would go on to very clearly demonstrate, so BRCC can enjoy some crow with their overpriced ‘Murica Coffee. Unsurprisingly, the company has not mentioned Rittenhouse by name even once, even though his acquittal was a critical test for the integrity of the 2nd Amendment. As a side note, I recommend Stocking Mill Coffee if you’re looking for an unabashedly pro-2nd Amendment coffee alternative. I rather like their “Privateer” blend.
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When it comes to single instances like Gilette and Black Rifle Coffee, the posturing and capitulations are merely droplets, but droplets can add up to a wave. The latest droplet has the taste of the impressively mediocre beer, Bud Light. The brand has generally marketed itself as a working man's beer - a drink for that flag-waving, blue collar, truck-driving cowboy in all of us. That makes it all the more bizarre that the company would choose to partner with Dylan Mulvaney, a “transwoman" (read: man) from TikTok. If TikTok has done nothing else for the world (it hasn’t), it has proven that MK-ULTRA is alive and well.
The response from most conservatives was swift and negative. Social media is now filled with images and videos of Bud Light cans and bottles being ceremoniously destroyed. To that I half-jokingly ask, what took you so long? If you’re going to drink beer at all, why were you ever wasting your money on cheap swill like Bud Light?
Conservatives have been presented with a unique opportunity, not only to rid their diet of a lackluster beverage but also to send a political message. Whereas some mega-companies like Starbucks or Apple regularly posture for the social approval of the left, they are mostly insulated from the effects of a conservative boycott. There simply aren’t that many traditionally-minded blue collar workers in Iowa who start every day with a Supreme Triple Mocha Pumpkin Spice Quantum Frappe Latte (5,000 calories for an 8 oz. cup). But a company like Bud Light, which historically has derived much of its revenue from more blue collar consumers, is much more likely to feel the sting of a backlash. And they have.
It is entirely possible that Anheuser-Busch will find a way to financially rebound. A lot of people will never have another Bud Light in their refrigerator, but many others will forget this episode in a few weeks or months. Such is the consquence of a 24/7 news cycle that always moves at 120 mph. Someone may see the Bud Light fiasco as nothing more than an isolated absurdity, a strange occurrence that came and went. But for those who are more attuned to the “Culture War”, they will recognize that it is but one more boot-stomp in the left’s long march.
Andrew Breitbart famously declared that politics is downstream from culture. He was right, and we should not be so quick to downplay the “messages” spat forth by megacorporations, even if those messages are nothing more than cynical ploys by an otherwise apolitical board room. Advertising is, of course, meant to influence consumers. If ads were not broadly effective, then America would not spend hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising year over year. Can you remember a day in which you did not see a single advertisement? Billboards, radio spots, internet banners, and TV commercials - it’s endless. You may not even fully recall the contents of a particular ad, but if you paid attention long enough to one, then you may have already subconsciously absorbed its message.
There used to be a time where the political left was nominally anti-corporate, but somewhere along the way they discovered that the merging of cultural and corporate power was very useful. Because of the social pressure that the left can field, they are able to browbeat public companies into cultural compliance, on the rare occasion that an employee voices an opinion that was not cultivated by talentless late night TV “comedians”. The left leverages the massive advertising budgets and visibility of megacorporations to push forth messages that would have been considered unfathomable twenty years ago. Just as regular ads are meant to erode hesitancy towards a new product, “Socially Aware” ads are meant in part to slowly erode the public’s opposition to certain things. It doesn’t matter if Jeff Bezos himself is ambivalent to this or that “cause”, as long as the corporation can be used as a sockpuppet by the “activists” in its ranks.
So how has the political right responded to the Bud Light controversy? As I’ve mentioned, everyday conservatives are consistently opposed to the absurdity on display, but I neglected to mention the response from the political right’s leadership. With a few exceptions, the response has ranged from absent to downright galling. Of particular note is the normally-firebrand Donald Trump Jr., who called for conservatives to… back off of their boycott.
"So, here’s the deal. Anheuser-Busch totally s--- the bed with this Dylan Mulvaney thing. I’m not, though, for destroying an American, an iconic company for something like this," Trump Jr. said Thursday.
Come again? Why should conservatives care if a bilgewater-peddling megacorporation suddenly goes under? Are we so beholden to products that we are obligated to just keep drinking it, even when they champion the worst kinds of modern insanity?
"The company itself doesn’t participate in the same leftist nonsense as the other big conglomerates," he added. "Frankly, they don’t participate in the same woke garbage that other people in the beer industry actually do, who are significantly worse offenders when I looked into it. But if they do this again, then it’s on them. Then, screw them."
Well, they are participating in it, Junior. That’s why we’re here. And they will do it again, if you signal to them that you and your supporters will not vote with your wallets. They may walk it back for now, but they’ll give it another go once they feel that the coast is clear. Critically, other companies will recognize that you aren’t willing to hold your money, and they will feel emboldened to dance for the left. And on and on the propaganda machine will go. Many conservatives that are only hearing about it for the first time through Donald Trump Jr. will be more inclined to let it be and forego a boycott.
This capitulation would be disappointing enough, but the problem is deeper than laziness, indecisiveness, or hopeless consumerism. No, it’s worse than that.
'We looked into the political giving and lobbying history of Anheuser-Busch. And guess what? They actually support Republicans,' said Trump Jr.
'Last cycle their employees and their PAC gave about 60 percent to Republicans and 40 percent to Democrats. That's literally almost unheard of in corporate America, where it's really easy to go woke, where they do so constantly, where there's a consequence to actually being a conservative. So 60 / 40 to the conservative side is kind of a big deal.'
Shameful. We must not stand up against corporate propaganda, you see, because they give money to Team Red. You might assume that a member of the Trump family of all people would be completely unconcerned about whether or not Ronna McDaniel sees another strong donor report. Donald Junior and the company have since claimed that it was the decision of a low-level marketing employee, and not reflective of the whole company. A rogue advertising department? Nonsense. Megacorporations don’t launch partnerships or ad campaigns without multiple parties involved. I’m not that surprised to hear that the CEO of Anheuser-Busch is a former CIA officer. Make of that what you will, but it does tie in with something I intend to discuss at a later date.
If you’ve ever felt like conservatives are playing defense more often than not, then instances like this help explain why. Whether he realizes it or not, Donald Junior’s admission about corporate money goes a very long way to explain why ostensibly conservative leaders are not terribly effective at mobilizing opposition to the left’s cultural maneuvers. Junior and his father are uniquely positioned to reach millions of Republicans. Given their platform, they could be using the opportunity to rail against leftist propaganda and reiterating the importance of boycotts to their supporters. Given their wealth, the Trumps could be building alternatives to “woke” companies. The new business ventures wouldn’t have to be as ambitious or logistically nightmarish as building a company to dethrone Amazon or Google, but anything would be more productive than rolling out another series of pointless NFTs or a Twitter clone.
Everyday conservatives may not posses the corporate, academic, media, or administrative power to unilaterally alter the culture-to-politics stream, but we do posses individual financial power. If you find a company or their posturing to be objectionable, then spend your money accordingly. Every dollar that you withhold from a company that resents your way of life is a victory. Even if the culture around you is corrupted, even if the company in question reports sky-high profits, then you can at least take heart in knowing that you and your money were not a part of it.