Democrats aren’t only one to tow the woke line; Republicans mum for money too

Democrats aren’t only one to tow the woke line; Republicans mum for money too

Vivek Ramaswamy is a 37-year-old tech entrepreneur and 2024 Republican presidential candidate. He is the co-founder of Strive Asset Management and a critic of bank bailouts and environmental, social, and corporate governance — by which institutions make investment decisions based on how closely a company adhears to a set of woke values

Since news broke of Silicon Valley Bank’s failure, I’ve been an outspoken and unapologetic critic of the government bailing out Silicon Valley and its VC-backed tech companies. I call it what it is: crony corruption.

Shouldn’t self-avowed “free marketers” in Silicon Valley agree? Not when it messes with their bank accounts.

I received call after call this weekend from big-donor types who made it clear that my position on SVB is a red line, and that if I continue to spout such views, they’ll take their big donor money elsewhere.

Vivek Ramaswamy speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference
Ramaswamy spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY/Sipa USA

This also explains why many Republicans who privately agree with me refuse to say so in public.

One of the most prominent Republicans in America privately texted me in recent days after seeing my crusade against Silicon Valley cronyism: “I basically agree that the systemic risk fear was overblown.”

But he didn’t say so in public. The culture of fear and the rise of cronyism in America is a bipartisan problem.

But there are reasons to believe the cultural tide is turning, starting in the private sector itself.

Last January I launched Strive to compete directly with ESG-promoting asset managers like BlackRock, bucking a trend in financial markets at the time.

Friends at other Wall Street firms said we had no chance of breaking through.

But Strive raised over $500 million in assets in its first three months after launching its first fund last August – advocating for “excellence over politics.”

Speaking purely as a citizen, I hope other competitors follow suit.

Silicon Valley Bank has faced criticism from Ramaswamy and others for
Silicon Valley Bank has faced criticism from Ramaswamy and others for “woke” investing

Even some unexpected suspects are jumping on the new pro-excellence movement. In spring 2022, a band of Netflix employees staged a “walkout protest” in the name of trans rights following the release of Dave Chapelle’s streaming special.

In an uncharacteristic act of corporate courage, Netflix stood its ground. Issuing a memo to employees saying it fosters artistic expression and that employees who don’t want to work on the content they find offensive can work somewhere else.

It’s no coincidence that Netflix is reversing its abysmal performance and anemic growth and shoring up new subscribers.

Whether it’s a candidate or a corporation, there’s no point in being someone else’s puppet. It may be a winning strategy in the short run – for placating woke employees or self-interested political donors – but in the long run, truth wins.

Jon Levine

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