". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


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

June 28, 2024

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.

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