NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Republicans who are seeking to lead their party in the 2024 presidential race are gathering in South Carolina this weekend with a goal at the forefront of their agenda: taking on “woke ideology.”
On Saturday in North Charleston, Palmetto Family, which lobbies for what it considers to be “biblical values,” is hosting Vision ’24, described by organizers as “casting the conservative vision” for the next White House race. More than 400 attendees are expected to hear from presidential hopefuls, including Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who was Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Organizers expect issues such as gas prices and national security to get plenty of attention. But there also is an expectation that much of the focus will be on the pushback by some across the U.S. against what they perceive as affronts to conservative ways of life by efforts characterized as “woke.” It’s playing out in state-level debates over classroom instruction, gender-affirming care for minors and collegiate diversity programs.
Organizer Mitch Prosser of Palmetto Family says Vision ’24 is an opportunity for Republicans to outline their ideas in the state that holds the first GOP primary votes in the South next year.
“You’re going to hear a lot about woke ideology, specifically when it comes to children in school, and in parenting,” Prosser said.
The catch-all label is taking on a leading a role within the burgeoning GOP presidential contest, with candidate-in-waiting Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, emerging as a fierce opponent of policies designed to ensure equity when it comes to race, gender and public health. (DeSantis won’t be on stage in South Carolina.)
Ramaswamy, who entered the race this month, wrote a book on the topic, particularly as it pertains to business: “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.”
The debate has spilled over into the finance space, too.
On Thursday, 19 Republican governors — including DeSantis and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, another possible 2024 contender — signed a letter opposing the Biden administration’s support of a federal labor rule allowing retirement plans to consider environmental, social and governance factors when making investment decisions. Critics say the efforts are the latest example of the world trying to get “woke,” allocating money based on political agendas, like a drive against climate change, rather than on earning the best returns for savers.
Haley has adopted “strong and proud, not weak and woke” on yard signs, shirts and campaign stickers.