The Business of Wokeness is Bad Business

A couple of weeks ago, millions of Americans awoke to news that Bud Light had sponsored Dylan Mulvaney, a man who has become famous by pretending to be a ditzy teenage girl.  Suddenly, if you bought a Bud Light, you found yourself financing and promoting the radical transgender ideology that demands that chemical castration and surgical mutilation be normalized in order to affirm the delusions harbored by thousands of gender-dysphoric children and adults across America.

On the surface, it was a move so boneheaded that many wondered if it was an April Fools gag, given the timing.  But it was genuine, with Bud Light's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, initially defending the business partnership with Mulvaney.

While those responsible for it probably expected some conservative backlash, the bipartisan response has been overwhelming and brand-shattering, with sales falling dramatically and Anheuser-Busch having shed around $24 billion in market capitalization over just 13 days.

What's important to understand is that the people overseeing this marketing effort were not trying to sell more beer.  Earning greater market share and profit by satisfying and attracting customers may have been central to the corporate incentive structure when America was an ascendant economic power, but the corporate incentives have changed.

"The business of America is business," said President Calvin Coolidge.  But today, the business of America is wokeness, and neither the American people nor the global marketplace is lining up to buy it any more than people have lined up to buy Bud Light these past weeks.

Anheuser-Busch cannot simply try to grow its brand by becoming more appealing to their customer base in today's world, you see, without first paying tribute to the political commissars who are directing market capital.  And the only way it can do that is by signaling its corporate allegiance to their political pursuits.

Too many people scoffed at the warnings about the danger of the social credit system in communist China, which punishes individuals for a lack of fealty to the ideological ambitions of the government.  Western politicians and corporations apparently thought that too good an idea to not import it, so social credit scoring is now a reality in America.  Here, it's taken the shape of the "corporate equality index," overseen by the Human Rights Campaign, which is the "largest LGBTQ+ political lobbying group in the world."

The world's most influential portfolio managers are directing billions toward corporations that they deem worthy of investment on the basis of that score, which is determined by their level of commitment to far-left organizations like Black Lives Matter, for example, or their having a nonbinary lesbian on the board of directors, or their proud partnership with a man who pretends he's a little girl.

That's the ugly truth in this.  Anheuser-Busch was simply reacting to incentives, as all individuals and corporations do.  The reason that these incentives have become twisted is because the game has been rigged by companies like BlackRock and State Street, such that having a good social credit score is needed just to get a seat at the table at which these politicians and leviathan investment firms are feeding woke corporations the billions upon billions of dollars that we investors gave them.   

Of course, we don't invest money with firms like BlackRock to advance wokeness.  We invest that money to achieve the best possible financial return on our investment.  That means investing in the very best opportunities available.  This is impossible when investment firms like BlackRock prioritize wokeness over value, efficiency, and profit.

To be clear, wokeness destroys everything it infects.  The moment you accept that your company should prioritize skin color or sex, or some other such irrelevant nonsense, in hiring employees, you must accept that more practically qualified candidates will often be turned away in order to hire less qualified employees.  Less qualified employees are more likely to perform badly and make bad business decisions, obviously.  But since companies have to be woke in order to get a seat at the BlackRock's table, they're almost universally and regularly hiring less qualified employees.

Interestingly, this has led to the culturally taboo (though universally recognized) phenomenon of "diversity hires," which are underqualified individuals hired primarily for their value as members of a socially protected "victim" class.  Even if we didn't know that diversity hires exist by observing societal trends, we'd know that they exist because the woke are openly telling us that they exist.  Karine Jean-Pierre, for example, was heralded by Jen Psaki for being the first ever black female immigrant lesbian to become White House press secretary.  None of those descriptors represents accomplishments, talents, or skills that provide any actual value in her position (as she regularly demonstrates from the podium), but we all know that those traits are the currency that purchased her position.

Bud Light's V.P. of Marketing, Alissa Heinerschied, is also a woke "first-ever" kind of story.  "As the first woman to lead the biggest beer brand in the world, it's an amazing opportunity to really evolve and elevate Bud Light," the Ivy League alum said in February of 2023.

"What I need to do is help this brand evolve ... this is my passion point," she continued, going on to say that "female representation is a personal passion point of mine."

How such a supposedly astute businesswoman calculated that this political agenda would translate to selling more beer is anyone's guess, but it's hard to imagine the core problem with wokeness in business being more singularly personified than her quest to make the business about her own political "passion project" rather than the customers. 

There's something marvelously ironic about these statements after witnessing the Mulvaney incident.  It wasn't Bud Light's insistence upon female representation that was Heinerscheid's problem, as it turns out, but its insistence to hire a male representing himself as a female that is causing this bump in the road in her career.

And a bump in the road is all this will be for her, make no mistake.  Her swift removal and an emphatic apology to Bud Light's customers are the only things that would bring the once-loyal legions of customers back to the keg.  But such a move would be a repudiation of wokeness, and that's out of the question because it certainly wouldn't make the woke mob or the commissars at BlackRock happy.  Even as the brand is scrambling to recover the multi-billion-dollar losses it has experienced in the past weeks by going silent on social media and now claiming that higher levels of management had nothing to do with the decision, wokeness prevents even meaningful recovery from the brand annihilation that wokeness has wrought. 

So the damage is done in this case.  The Bud Light brand is permanently damaged, and will never be what it once was, because this thing has proven to have more legs than they could have ever imagined it would.  But it only stands out to us because it's a less controlled crash than we're watching play out in the rest of the woke economy around us.

There are some signs that investors, and some states and institutions, are rejecting ESG and virtue-investing.  That's a good thing, but it's not happening fast enough, and the dire costs are racking up.  And while the rejection of Bud Light's radical wokeness is a welcome reminder that the consumer still retains a bit of power in the marketplace, there's no telling how much longer that will be the case as the woke forces continue consolidating their power to direct capital in the market. 

America is faced with a simple choice at this moment — either we make the business of America business again, or we continue down this woke spiral into decline and ruin.

Image: Todd Sanders via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (cropped).

If you experience technical problems, please write to