NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Republicans seeking to lead their party in the 2024 presidential campaign are rallying in South Carolina this weekend with a goal high on their agenda: adopting “awakened ideology.”
On Saturday, the Palmetto Family, which champions “biblical values,” is hosting Vision ’24 in North Charleston, which organizers describe as “the conservative vision” for the next White House race. More than 400 attendees are expected to be attended by presidential hopefuls, including Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who was Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Organizers expect issues like gas prices and national security to get a lot of attention. But there is also an expectation that much of the focus will be on opposition by some in the US to what they see as an affront to conservative ways of life, through efforts dubbed “awake”. It is playing out in state-level debates about classroom instruction, gender-sensitive minor care and college diversity programs.
Palmetto Family organizer Mitch Prosser says Vision ’24 is being billed as an opportunity for Republicans to outline their ideas in the state that will hold the first GOP primary votes in the South next year.
“You’re going to hear a lot about awakened ideologies, especially when it comes to kids in school and parenting,” Prosser said.
The catch-all label is taking a leading role in the burgeoning GOP presidential race, with candidate Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, emerging as a bitter opponent of policies aimed at ensuring racial, gender and public justice Health.
Ramaswamy, who competed in this month’s race, has written a book on the subject, specifically as it relates to business, Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.
The debate has also spread to the financial sphere.
On Thursday, 19 Republican governors, including South Dakota’s DeSantis and Kristi Noem, another possible 2024 nominee, signed a letter opposing the Biden administration’s support of the federal labor code that allows retirement plans to be environmentally friendly when making investment decisions , social and governance (ESG) factors to consider . Critics say the effort is the latest example of the world trying to “wake up” to allocating money based on political agendas, such as fighting climate change, rather than trying to get the best returns for savers.
DeSantis won’t be performing in South Carolina, but Ramaswamy and Haley will. Haley used “strong and proud, not weak and woke” on yard signs, shirts and campaign stickers. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, she said that “awakening is a virus undoubtedly more dangerous than any pandemic.”
For Ramaswamy, being “anti-woke” is central to his political brand. Ramaswamy left his biotech company after pressuring him to “make a statement in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement,” urging CPAC to “create an opportunity for the conservative movement to face the situation and this.” Filling the gap with a vision of American national identity runs so deep it dilutes this awakened poison to irrelevance.” He later founded his own firm to pressure companies to abandon ESG initiatives.
It’s a similar message that South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who has yet to announce his own 2024 bid but is expected to be in attendance Saturday, has been making for years. In a 2021 op-ed, Scott wrote that because of his status as the only black Republican in the Senate, he has long endured criticism from “woke people” because “my ideology doesn’t align with what they dictate based on the color of my skin.”
Other attendees include former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan and former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard, who stumbled for GOP MP Nancy Mace in November, criticized her former party for “trying to foist this radical wake-up policy on us in every way and in every aspect of our lives.”
South Carolina Democratic Party leader Trav Robertson viewed Friday’s event and called the push of the “MAGA agenda” a “dog whistle” to some.
“If you’re talking about a culture war and you’ve woken up, then don’t pay attention to the fact that your rights and your freedom to make your health decisions as a woman are being taken away,” Robertson said, citing pushes for more restrictive abortion laws in a row of states. “They want to talk about waking up because they are unable to talk about anything substantial.”
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