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Virtue-Signaling Hack Throws Away His Tractor Supply Hat Over Politics. It Won't Matter.

Photo: Business Wire

I don’t think I’d ever set foot in a Tractor Supply store until I moved out to rural Louisiana and started living that country life. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been to the store a number of times, as well as other similar retailers.

After Tractor Supply’s recent decision to step away from politics, I am even more likely to be a frequent customer. But apparently, not everyone feels the same way.

Journalist and historian David M. Perry wrote an op-ed for CNN in which he boldly declared his brave decision to throw away his beloved Tractor Supply hat after the company announced that it was abandoning its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, halting its promotion of Pride events, and ditching its commitment to kowtowing to the progressive climate agenda.

Instead, the company will focus on issues that actually impact its rural customer base. It will focus on "ag education, animal welfare, veteran causes,” and others.

Perry’s piece starts with a nostalgic reflection on the history of his hat, describing it as a symbol of his connection to the land and his outdoor activities. However, it appears this connection has been severed by Tractor Supply’s pivot. Perry writes, "After I read something on the internet on Thursday, I took off my hat and threw it into the trash.”

That’s because the company — in what it says is an effort to distance itself from “nonbusiness activities” — caved to a right-wing boycott campaign and announced it would abandon its programs intended to foster diversity, equity and inclusion (in favor of, presumably, homogeneity, inequality and exclusion?). In a news release Thursday, TSC said it will stop sponsoring events like “pride festivals and voting campaigns” (not voting for anyone, just voting) and “withdraw our carbon emission goals and focus on our land and water conservation efforts.” The company said further that it would be eliminating DEI roles and “retire (its) current DEI goals while still ensuring a respectful environment.”

Predictably, conservatives are celebrating and liberals are now the ones calling for a boycott.

The author speculates that TSC “has calculated that it can’t please everyone, that most of its customers are White conservatives or sympathize with that viewpoint – and so to hell with the rest of us.”

Perry also said that in his home, he sees products he “purchased from a store that has told me – loudly – that it doesn’t see me as a valuable customer.”

The author argues that Tractor Supply is wrong to assume that bigots represent rural America without providing any evidence that the company’s leadership believes this is the case. He refers to comments made by John Boyd Jr., founder of the National Black Farmers Association, who told The Washington Post that the company is “sending the wrong message to America.”

Perry also takes issue with the company’s withdrawal from pushing the climate agenda.

Second, fighting climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue. While much of the country is battling epic levels of heat, that’s not been the case in our neck of the woods. While years of drought have made the waters hotter and shallower, which isn’t good for our northern fish, this year so far we’ve replaced drought with cool weather, endless rain and terrible flooding. Today the fish in the St. Croix might be happy, but the river is too dangerous for me to find out. And while fishing is essential to my happiness, it is at least just a hobby. An era of drought or constant rain presents a disaster for farmers. In the real world instead of right-wing social media, it’s going to be a disaster for the corporations that serve them.

Of course, Perry knows that climate change is a partisan issue. Folks like him only support one set of theories and solutions for climate change: Those that are promoted by those on the progressive side.

Despite Perry’s arguments, it is more likely that it is he who has miscalculated, not TSC. He is ignoring the fact that a corporation’s purpose for existing is to earn profits for its owners. Diving headfirst into progressive politics is a great way to alienate a robust customer base – especially if it is serving rural communities that happen to be more conservative. Let’s face it, uptown leftists in New York City don’t make up a sizeable chunk of the company’s customer base.

The reality is that TSC will lose far fewer customers by not engaging in the type of politicking Perry’s ilk embraces. Indeed, I may just go ahead and buy my own Tractor Supply hat to replace Perry’s at this point.

Tractor Supply would be best served by serving its customer base, not by becoming part of the political machine. If the company is going to take up a cause, it is wiser to look at issues on which most Americans already agree.

Of course, Perry can shop wherever he wants. If he wants to patronize “woke” companies, that’s his prerogative. But expecting every company to participate in progressive social activism is silly, given the fact that conservative Americans exist, and we spend money just like leftists.

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