Many are saying that Governor Kristi Noem sold out girls in sports by backing down from threats by the NCAA, citing actions by the governors of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. It’s a very short-sighted view of the situation she faced. If anything, Noem has exposed one aspect of the battlefield that needs to be taken into account in future fights. It may even require a serious adjustment in strategy, using one of the tactics from a controversial organization.
First of all, South Dakota's conditions are not the same as those in Tennessee. Those who are tactically and strategically aware understand that what works in Texas may not fly in Massachusetts. South Dakota, for instance, can be far more adversely affected by the NCAA moving tournaments out than Tennessee. The latter state has the country music industry and a growing conservative entertainment hub centered in Nashville. Losing a Final Four is an ego hit, which stinks, but that doesn’t deliver a massive blow to the economy.
South Dakota, on the other hand, has agriculture and Mount Rushmore. There is not much else going for it economically, and the NCAA’s decision to pull tournaments could inflict a lot of damage. It's likely voters will kick out a politician who wrecks the economy, whether by pursuing Green New Deal nonsense or by causing major events to pull out of a state with a relatively small economy.
Faced with a massive threat to her state’s economy, some could argue she should have seen this coming, given what happened in 2015 with Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act saga. Noem made a tactical retreat, asking the state legislature to limit the bill to cover K-12 schools. An impasse with the state legislature killed the bill this year and gave Noem a PR black eye but saved the state’s economy. Certainly, there is a question of whether she failed to plan for that properly, and it’s one she will have to answer for in the likely event she runs for President in 2024. That being said, this wasn’t a sellout – it was accepting the strategic situation as it really was.
The 2020 election saw corporate America throw its weight against President Trump. Silicon Valley censorship was one of the things that tilted the playing field, but there is a growing reality that many companies, at the very least, are trying to placate the Left to avoid a mob on Twitter – or worse. See the reactions of Delta and Coca-Cola to Georgia’s election integrity law, and Major League Baseball deciding to move the All-Star Game. The 2019 All-Star Game brought host city Cleveland a $65 million economic boost so it is a major financial loss for Georgia.
It's not just companies. Major investors can also be players as well. One heavyweight that should be of note is BlackRock – according to a report by Breitbart News, it manages $9 trillion in assets. To put that into perspective, the Biden “infrastructure” package being proposed, with a fair amount of left-wing policy goals (an effective end to right-to-work, re-classifying a lot of independent contractors as full-time employees, etc.), is about one-fourth the size of BlackRock’s portfolio.
What is taking place is something Americans should take seriously. Republicans, conservatives, and the MAGA coalition are becoming the targets of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The goal of the original was to force Israel to surrender on various policy debates surrounding its security. The new iteration goal is to neutralize election wins of the Republican/conservative/MAGA coalition by making those policies radioactive.
The threat of boycotts is what we’re seeing aimed at businesses to compel them to fight election integrity laws. Leftists and prominent Democrats say that the imposition of financial harm will come unless businesses agree to back the Left’s agenda. Furthermore, states that enact conservative policies on contentious issues could be targeted for boycotts unless they reverse those policies. This happened in 2015 when Indiana passed its version of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
So far, election integrity, protecting women’s sports, and RFRAs have drawn the fire, but it won’t stop there. Imagine a boycott from Bloomberg’s anti-Second Amendment groups aimed at Iowa over enacting constitutional carry or targeting a state that refuses to pass a ban on modern multi-purpose semiautomatic firearms. It could even extend to demanding they enact provisions of the Green New Deal or force repeal (or non-passage) of a ban of critical race theory.
The boycotts are often used to force divestment – in essence, cutting off funding. This is what happened to Gab and congressional candidate Laura Loomer. Some payment providers have also banned President Trump from their platforms. As is the case with the divestment from Israel, the goal is to cut conservatism off economically. Amazon, for instance, will not allow donations to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit that handles a lot of First Amendment litigation. Today, it may be ADF, but could the NRA be targeted for its defense of the Second Amendment tomorrow? Or would the target be True the Vote, which works to train poll watchers – a key element of election integrity?
The fact of the matter is that payment processors and financial institutions could very well kill conservatism by refusing to have those who advocate for conservative policies as customers. Whether it is because the CEO is “woke” or whether they are facing a barrage of boycott threats, the end result is the same, the banks, payment processors, and financial institutions will decline to have conservative activists and organizations as customers, forcing them to more cumbersome fundraising approaches. Disfavored constitutional rights, particularly Second Amendment rights, have also faced being cut off.
Sanctions have also been broken out. This is what the movement of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is a classic example of. Andrew Cuomo also used the threat of sanctions against financial institutions to compel them to stop doing business with the National Rifle Association. Struggling small businesses who protested his lockdown orders found themselves the target of sanctions as well, in the form of a conveniently-timed inspection that resulted in a suspended liquor license in one case.
The sanctioning has happened in the past. Remember Lois Lerner’s targeting of the Tea Party and the politicization of the IRS? Then there is the apparently re-vitalized Operation Choke Point which uses the threat of regulatory action to get banks to cut ties with legal but disfavored industries. It amounts to a de facto social credit system, imposed by companies following the marching orders of left-wing activists.
Much has to be done, and much of it can be done at the state and local level. First, smaller banks may be more willing to stand by customers, especially those they have known for a long time. Second, they can ask their state lawmakers to pass versions of the Freedom Financing Act that not only covers Second Amendment rights, but adds First Amendment rights and protects other legal business entities.
For those who this “social credit" scheme has harmed and who want to act with more teeth, there is the option of litigation at the private level for restraint of trade, defamation, and/or tortuous interference. This can be used against the businesses that engage in this Neo-redlining and at the activists whose lies provide the pretexts used for the imposition of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.
In addition, there can always be advocacy to get state attorneys general to act. State entities could sue Big Tech, banks, and financial institutions under various consumer protection provisions, including, but not limited to, false advertising and viewpoint discrimination, depending on the state. This would add further pressure on businesses to not go along.
If there are several hundred, or even thousands of suits across the country, big business could decide that going along with BDS tactics is too risky and expensive – much as the Internal Revenue Service did with the Church of Scientology. Might it be considered dirty pool? Well, the Left tried it against gun manufacturers in the 1990s and the media celebrated it then. Turnabout is fair play.
The fact is, the Left was getting major corporations to enact a form of social credit through the tactics of the BDS movement for quite a while. Kristi Noem has arguably been the most prominent politician to expose its emergence. While she had to make a tactical retreat, the exposure of the BDS approach to enforcing that scheme, which is an existential threat to conservatism, is a great service to this country. Now, it is our job to neutralize that threat.