by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An obscure movement to push corporate America to the left could play a major role in the 2024 presidential campaign.
President Joe Biden’s first veto was in defense of a rule allowing pension fund managers to make investment decisions based on factors many consider to be “woke.”
The top two Republican candidates to unseat Biden, former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), have taken a hard line against this new trend.
Environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, is model for allowing climate change and liberal social goals to be priorities alongside — and often greater than — maximizing profit.
Republicans in Congress, with the help of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester, two of the most endangered Democratic Senate incumbents, passed a resolution overturning a pro-ESG Biden Labor Department rule.
Biden didn’t exactly defend his veto on the basis of ideological goals, but rather pragmatic financial ones. “I just signed this veto because the legislation passed by the Congress would put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
For Trump and DeSantis, however, fighting ESG has become a big part of the broader battle against woke capitalism.
“In Florida and across the nation, we’ve heard from law-abiding small business owners and consumers who’ve been denied access to financial services because of where they work or what they believe in,” DeSantis said after signing an anti-ESG bill of his own. “Through this legislation, Florida will continue to lead the nation against big banks and corporate activists who’ve colluded to inject woke ideology into the global marketplace, regardless of the financial interests of beneficiaries.”
“Florida will not bow down to the political virtue signaling of martini millionaires,” House Speaker Paul Renner, a Republican, said in a statement at the time.