Rash, grandiose calls for action are the left’s bread and butter. Cancel this and that. Burn the mother down. Dreadful as it is, they’re winning. Meanwhile, the right is too tepid or prideful to hold strong on a boycott. That must change.
Last fall, it felt like the right people were retaking lost positions in the culture war. Mass righteous indignation erupted after Netflix began promoting its controversial movie Cuties. #CancelNetflix shot to the top of the trends on Twitter. Millions unsubscribed or didn’t sign up. Ultimately, however, the cultural moment was just that, a “flash in the pan” as one elite financier predicted at the time.
Now, as Major League Baseball triumphantly removes the All Star Game from Georgia in opposition to its new election integrity law, and scores of woke corporations openly conspire about how to bully other states considering such legislation, a spirit of consumer revolt must be revived and emboldened by right-wing populists. And this movement doesn’t have to wait for Cuties 2 or whatever the next depraved exhibition is that gets celebrated by the mainstream media. (RELATED: Conservatives Should Support Tax Hikes On The Top 1%, Corporations)
What’s largely preventing this economic uprising from the right is the conservative movement and its leading influencers mis-framing what the woke left is doing and what’s at stake.
Conservatives should not view wokeism as something to be policed when it “goes too far” like in the recent cases of Dr. Seuss or Mr. Potato Head. Woke ideology is the fanatical means by which destruction of the family, meritocracy, and all social hierarchy are currently taking place.
Too many on the right acquiesce and conform to rules set by wokeism, even though the woke agitators themselves break those rules constantly. This asymmetric nature of today’s culture war is clear when considering every single corporate PR campaign sides with the left.
Boycotts have to be at least part of the right’s arsenal going forward. Unfortunately, one takeaway from the #CancelNetflix flashpoint has been that conservative boycotts don’t work–at least, they don’t bring down massive corporations.
On the contrary, although Netflix recovered, undeniable gains were made for the populist right as more “normal” folks looked at the situation and found room for agreement with the boycotters.
The grassroots right was ennobled and its cause of defending children against an ever-encroaching leftist mainstream media gained credibility. Other causes like free speech or combating critical race theory can galvanize broad support as well.
What brings these disparate issues together is the dignity of the individual and the virtues of family, community, and rule of law. The left’s boycotts can focus on ideological goals like social justice, anti-racism, or equity, but the populist right’s must be based on more tangible, human-scale values.
To succeed, an identifiable target and clear course of action have to be delineated. Thankfully, the radical left creates plenty of opportunities. Sometimes they offer small victories and morale boosters for the right.
When Target removed Dr. Debra Soh’s book, “The End of Gender,” there was enough backlash that the book was reinstated into Target’s inventory.
The war continues, though, as Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage,” another anti-transgender agenda book, was recently removed by Target for a second time with no explanation. At about the same time, Amazon banned Ryan Anderson’s book “When Harry Became Sally.” (RELATED: Conservatives Accuse Noem Of ‘Political Theater’ Over Bill Banning Biological Males From Women’s Sports)
Keep in mind that while these particular books are being canceled by particular stores, a boycott can also leave a lasting impact on other booksellers as well as on future decisions made regarding all sorts of products sold by these giant retailers.
It must be made clear that some attempted boycotts by conservatives have been ill-advised, though they never grew into much anyway. Think of the boycott proposed several years back against Chipotle for not allowing guns on its premises. It’s an annoying company policy, but hardly one that will generate widespread civil disobedience or even muster public attention for a serious debate on gun rights.
If the conservative movement wants to ever move up to the next level and actually reverse the left’s cultural takeover, boycotts will be indispensable in the grander strategy. Placing hope in more conferences, future elections, and alternative news networks and social media may not be enough.
Target, Amazon, and other big tech and woke corporations are convenient to use, but they are incrementally encroaching on conservatives as they lobby for government protection against entrepreneurial competition. (RELATED: Amazon Admits It Won’t Sell Books ‘That Frame LGBTQ+ Identity As A Mental Illness’)
Boycotts may mean paying higher prices in the short run, but long term, they can draw more and more eyes to culture war flashpoints where conservatives enjoy wide public support. We cannot cede them to the left.
Nick Hankoff is a writer, editor, and host of a podcast at, where his other writing for the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Advocates for Self-Government can also be found. He lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with his wife and their three children.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.