Haley, Ramaswamy among those taking on ‘woke ideology’ in SC

Haley, Ramaswamy among those taking on ‘woke ideology’ in SC

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Republicans seeking to lead their party in the 2024 presidential race gathered in South Carolina this weekend with one goal at the top of their agenda: getting “ideology smart.”

On Saturday in North Charleston, the group Palmetto Family, which lobbies for what it considers “biblical values,” hosted Vision ’24, described by organizers as “casting the conservative vision” for the upcoming White House race. Several hundred attendees heard from presidential candidates, including Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who was Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

As organizers expected, issues such as gas prices and national security got a lot of attention, with former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson saying that, to fight inflation, “we have to get the federal government under control.”

But, as expected, much of the focus has been on the backlash by some across the US against what they perceive as an affront to conservative ways of life by efforts characterized as “woke”. It’s showing up in statewide debates over classroom instruction, gender-affirming care for minors and collegiate diversity programs.

The “woke” label is taking a leading role in the growing GOP presidential race, with hopeful Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, emerging as a staunch opponent of policies designed to ensure equality when it comes down to it. on race, gender and public health.

Ramaswamy, who entered the race this month, wrote a book on the subject, especially as it relates to business: “Woke, Inc.: Inside the Social Justice Fraud of Corporate America.”

The debate has also spread to the financial space.

On Thursday, 19 Republican governors, including DeSantis and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, another possible 2024 contender, signed a letter opposing the Biden administration’s support for a federal labor rule that allows retirement plans of consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investments. decisions. Critics say the efforts are the latest example of the world trying to “woke up”, allocating money based on political agendas such as a climate change effort, rather than earning the best returns for savers.

DeSantis wasn’t on the scene in South Carolina, but Ramaswamy and Haley were. Haley has adopted “strong and proud, not skinny and smart” on campaign yard signs, shirts and stickers. At the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, she said “awakening is a more dangerous virus than any pandemic, hands down”. On Saturday, Haley called transgender students competing in sports “the women’s issue of our time,” adding, “If we don’t stop all this smart ideology going on in our schools, we’re going to lose them .”

For Ramaswamy, being “anti-awakening” is central to his political brand. Leaving his biotech company after pressure to “make a statement in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Ramaswamy called on CPAC for “an opportunity for the conservative movement to step up and fill that void with a vision of American national identity. which runs so deep as to dilute this clever poison to insignificance.” He later started his own firm aimed at pressuring companies to abandon ESG initiatives.

On Saturday, Ramaswamy called the “awakening” of a “cultural cancer” in America, saying that, as president, he would advocate starting over with agencies that have “become a cancerous rot.”

“We’re going to shut down the FBI and create something new from scratch to take its place,” he said, to huge applause.

It’s a similar line of messaging that South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who has yet to announce his 2024 bid but was in attendance Saturday, has done for years. In a 2021 op-ed, Scott wrote that, because of his status as the only black Republican in the Senate, he had long endured criticism from “smart people” because “my ideology doesn’t match what they describe based on in my color”.

“The radical left is trying to fixate people on victims,” Scott said Saturday in North Charleston, adding that, according to Democrats, “if you’re white, you must be an oppressor. If you’re black or brown, you’re a victim.”

Others also took up the subject.

“I think we have to protect the kids … sometimes from ourselves,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the audience, referring to transgender student athletes.

“Woke is their favorite word, wake is their favorite activity, and they adhere to DEI and ESG like it’s a religion,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told Washington Democrats. “I think that’s why 75% of this country thinks the country is on the wrong track.”

“Republicans are not perfect,” said Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “But the other side is crazy. … The American people do not deserve to be governed by profoundly intelligent … people who hate George Washington, hate Thomas Jefferson … who think our children should be able to change genders at recess.”

Former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who told The Associated Press he will determine whether to seek the 2024 Republican presidential nomination by late spring or early summer, said Washington politicians with a ” smart” “are crushing the spirit of American educators and entrepreneurs and the American spirit.”

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party last year, said her former party “is being driven by this motivation of cowardly awakening” and that there are leaders who “defend the mutilation of children in the name of so-called care gender affirming.”

Watching the event Friday, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson called the push from the “MAGA agenda” a “dog whistle” for some.

“If they’re talking about a culture war and they woke up, then you’re not paying attention to the fact that your rights and your freedom to make health care decisions as a woman are being taken away,” Robertson said, referring to the push for more restrictive abortion laws in a number of states. “They want to talk about awakening because they are unable to talk about anything substantial.”


Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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