Over the past few years, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores have swept across the corporate business landscape like wildfire as big banks, giant asset management firms, multinational corporations, high-ranking government officials, influential global institutions, and an assortment of special interest groups have colluded to replace “shareholder capitalism” with what they deem “stakeholder capitalism.”
In short, ESG increases the power and economic influence of giant investment firms and multinational corporations by allowing them to determine which companies receive access to capital based upon their ESG scores.
Moreover, because ESG investing is entirely subjective in nature, and the metrics are apt to change at any moment, it allows large investment firms like BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard to nudge society in any direction they choose at a given point in time.
As of now, ESG scores heavily favor companies that toe the “climate change is an existential crisis” line. They also currently reward companies that are all-in on implementing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” initiatives. However, ESG metrics are not set in stone, and can be deployed to accomplish any woke cause with a few tweaks.
Yet, this pales in comparison to the greatest concern regarding the ESG movement: ESG investing allows powerful elites like BlackRock’s Larry Fink to favor their preferred social objectives with everyday Americans’ investment funds while violating their fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profit.
American voters will likely have the final say about ESG in the United States, which is why it is particularly important that voters know precisely where the 2024 candidates stand on this seminal issue.
The Heartland Institute’s Anti-ESG Report Card: 2024 Presidential Candidates is intended to serve this very purpose. Essentially, the report is a handy guide for voters to reference concerning the views and actions on ESG for each of the 11 presidential candidates still in the 2024 race.
Keeping it simple, the report offers a “letter grade” for each candidate based primarily upon their “statements, policies, and previous votes related to ESG. High scores were given to candidates with the strongest policies against the use of ESG by governments, pensions, and financial institutions. The lowest scores were given to candidates who have openly supported the use of ESG, such as President Biden.”
Only four candidates earned a grade in the “A” range: Gov. Ron DeSantis (A+), former President Donald Trump (A), former Vice President Mike Pence (A), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) (A-). Although all four of these candidates have been outspoken critics of ESG, DeSantis leads the pack due to his state-level actions against ESG and the fact that he has clearly articulated that he intends to make the fight against ESG one of his top priorities, if elected president.
Two candidates scored in the “B” range: Vivek Ramaswamy (B) and Gov. Doug Burgum (B-). These grades were awarded based on the fact that these candidates have been somewhat feeble when it comes to ESG. While both of these candidates are mostly opposed to ESG, they have not expressed positions and supported policies that would entirely tackle the ESG threat.
Those earning grades in the “C” range include Nikki Haley (C+); Asa Hutchinson (C), and Chris Christie (C-). To be sure, all three of these candidates are not in favor of ESG, however, their lack of conviction and soft policy positions should make voters at least a little concerned.
Bringing up the rear of the pack and earning less-than-stellar marks are Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (D) and President Joe Biden (F). This should not come as a surprise considering RFK has been a longtime champion of renewable energy and a climate change advocate. Likewise, President Biden’s anti-fossil fuel polices and his commitment to ESG, including his veto of a bi-partisan bill designed to prohibit asset managers from using ESG metrics when making investment decisions and his use of executive agencies to entrench ESG at the federal level, earned him the lowest grade possible.
With the GOP primary elections rapidly approaching and about a year to go before the 2024 general election, voters deserve to know exactly where each of the remaining presidential candidates stand on ESG. Hopefully, this report will serve as a convenient guide so that when voters go to the polls they can make informed decisions on the future of ESG in the United States.
Chris Talgo (email@example.com) is editorial director at The Heartland Institute.
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