Twitter and Tesla billionaire CEO Elon Musk are calling it the “wake-up virus.” Populist Republicans like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are calling it a “corporate awakening.”
A watchword long embraced by the black community, “Woke” has been adopted by Republican activists, officials, and lawmakers as a culture war cry against progressive activism. And conservatives across America are using it to score political points in an attempt to prevent corporations from taking public stances on political issues and social causes, from abortion to immigration. .
In his second inaugural address this week, DeSantis said, “We will never bow to the wakeful mob. Florida is where the wakeful die.”
Republicans say they are fighting back against the unbridled influence of liberal activists in executive offices and boardrooms.
Complaints include Delta Air Lines, which opposes Georgia’s restrictive voting law, and Texas employees paying to travel out of state to have an abortion. The Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol building have exacerbated tensions as companies halted campaign donations to Republicans who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election.
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“This has nothing to do with running their company,” said Matt Schlapp, president of the Conservative Union of America. “Is it really the CEO’s job to be the head of the DNC, or the head of the AFL-CIO, or the head of Planned Parenthood?”
Why Conservatives Are Fighting ‘Awakened’ Companies
In a report produced for the National Center for Public Policy Research, Balancing the Board: How Conservatives Counter Corporate Awakening, the movement explains why: Few public institutions still have a fighting chance of reversing course. ”
Corporations have emerged as a significant force in American life, says David Primo, a professor of political science and management at the University of Rochester.
“They are doing this because they believe the voice of the company matters,” said Primo. “If they don’t think their voice matters, no one will put pressure on them.”
Republican campaign targets CRT and ESG
The two largest conservative campaigns have pursued racial justice and sustainable investment.
Republicans have used the term Critical Race Theory (CRT) to take aim at how racism is taught in private companies as well as schools.
Republicans are also pursuing ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance Principles, and the nation’s top money managers BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street are pushing ideological agendas at the expense of economic gains. claims to pursue.
These campaigns are expected to grow as Republicans control the House and most state legislatures and DeSantis could emerge as the 2024 presidential candidate.
DeSantis is the Republican Party’s Chief ‘Awakened’ Warrior
DeSantis penalizes Walt Disney for criticizing state laws restricting education about gender identity and sexual orientation in public classrooms to laws limiting the types of diversity training companies can offer to their employees has built his brand in part by attacking corporate America, until passing the . A law he called the “Stop WOKE” law.)
Florida also pulled out billions of state-owned assets managed by BlackRock in a dispute over ESG investment policies with the world’s largest asset manager.
When DeSantis was re-elected in November, he dedicated part of his victory speech to “Awakeningism.”
“We fight Awakeners in the legislature. We fight Awakeners in schools. We fight Awakeners within corporations,” he said.
DeSantis’ Definition of “Awakening”
The term “awakened” dates back to the early 20th century. Traditionally, it has been a call to black people around the world to “wake up” to anti-blackness and racial oppression.
Greater vigilance was again called for after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
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DeSantis is one of the most prominent conservatives to adopt the term and change its meaning.
Gray Rohrer of the news agency Florida Politics was in court recently when DeSantis staff answered that question.
DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske said that “woke” is a “slang word” for “progressive activism.”
Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ legal adviser, said it was “a belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and that they need to be addressed.”
Neumann said DeSantis does not believe there is systemic fraud in the US
Congressional Hearings Grilling ‘Woke Up’ Executives
Businesses are preparing for 2023 to be a year of highly partisan rhetoric.
Republican scrutiny is expected to intensify as the Republican-controlled House plans congressional hearings.
“Companies still have employees asking for more, not less, so I think we need to do this dance internally where we talk about inclusivity, how we treat our employees, what charities we’re engaged in, etc.” says Abhinav. “But getting out of the political news cycle is what they definitely want,” said Gupta, an associate professor of business administration at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.