Florida - "Where woke goes to die" says DeSantis
Amongst other things, 2022 was the year when its Republican Governor Ron DeSantis went to war on the so-called 'woke' political agenda.
On December 2 it was reported that he had stood behind a recent announcement to push back on woke corporations and CEOs, confirming that $2 billion of state money had been withdrawn from funds operated by investment firm BlackRock Inc, based on their operation of ESG Investment Funds.
ESG stands for 'Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance' and ESG funds are those that place investors money with corporations who are driven by these agendas - something that appears to diverge from Governor DeSantis' priorities. Florida is the fifth state (including Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho and Utah) to have restricted investment in sustainable strategies.
Governor DeSantis' 'War on Woke'
The announcement of the decision by Florida's leadership to stop investing in so-called 'woke' agendas will come as little surprise to those who've followed events in the Sunshine State this year. DeSantis went as far as to state that Florida is "where woke goes to die" in a speech earlier this year.
The 'Stop WOKE' act which was signed into law by Governor DeSantis in July prevents the teaching of certain topics including Critical Race Theory in Florida's schools and workplaces. It's a measure which DeSantis has stated is necessary to prevent indoctrination or spreading of needless guilt amongst residents of the state:
“It violates Florida standards to scapegoat someone based on their race, to say that they’re inherently racist, to say that they’re an oppressor or oppressed or any of that.”
The law has since undergone its first legal challenge and was subsequently blocked by a judge in Tallahassee.
Taking on 'Woke' corporations
The intent behind the 'War on Woke' extends beyond classrooms though, and the decision to remove billions of dollars in state funds from ESG funds demonstrates that DeSantis is serious about standing behind his words.
In July of this year he announced that the state would be cracking down on corporations that are overtly focused on ESG matters and which discriminate against Floridian individuals and businesses on the basis of religious, political or social beliefs.
The removal of investments with BlackRock Inc due to their focus on ESG investing is a sure sign that DeSantis intends to stand behind his word. Commenting on the removal of money from BlackRock, Florida's CFO Jimmy Patronis had this to say:
“Using our cash to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for. It’s got nothing to do with maximizing returns and is the opposite of what an asset manager is paid to do.”
The move may also be another indicator of Ron DeSantis' ambitions to run for president in 2024, since his views regarding ESG and woke corporate politics seem to echo with other Republicans throughout the United States. Time will tell if he takes further action to further his war on woke politics.
Do you think Governor DeSantis is right to focus so much attention and energy towards matters of woke politics? Are there other priorities that should be taking his time? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.