Memo 01.13.2023 5 minutes

Fighting the Woke Agenda in Congress


A congressman proposes a bold approach to pushing back against the Progressive infection in our institutions.

We no longer live in a normal America. The issues that Congress used to take up, like healthcare, the economy, or our withdrawal from Afghanistan, all regrettably pale in comparison to the creeping tyranny which nearly all Americans now feel.

The nation’s most powerful forces—our intelligence agencies, corporations, the press, our universities, and even our military—are all pressing further and further into uncharted territory from which it’s not clear America can return.

For the time being, saving America rests in the House of Representatives.

The most toxic part of this tyranny is its doctrine—“wokeness.” Everyone has by now heard this word but it means something very specific. It means that all the so-called oppressor groups must be punished for their past and present alleged sins. There are many steps to punishing them: inducing self-hatred through indoctrination, stripping away their rights by not enforcing the laws on their behalf, public humiliation, hatred, expropriation, and ultimately violence. That’s what the Left has done so far. It’s not exactly clear yet how far this can go.

And what does wokeness mean for the so-called oppressed? It means privileged status, exemption from certain laws and norms, and the public recognition that their views are unimpeachable—they cannot be contradicted by reason, they cannot be doubted, but must be believed.

This utterly un-American doctrine would be comical were it not so powerful. And it is powerful because it is enforced not only by every major national institution. It is promoted and funded by the federal government itself.

The Biden administration imposes these beliefs in schools, in the military, in government agencies and in the private sector. It not only wants us to hate each other. It is funding this hatred and fanning its flames. What do you think will be left of our nation once more and more people accept wokeness and act on its principles?

The new House Republican majority can and will fight institutionalized wokeness. The path forward is clear so long as we act confidently, as our voters demand.

First, House Republicans should pass legislation to rescind Executive Order 13985, Biden’s equity Executive Order that directed every single federal agency to produce an “Equity Action Plan.” Chuck Schumer would certainly strike it down, but it’s important for Republicans to make a unified statement in opposition to the Left’s abandonment of equality under the law.

Second, Congress must stop funding wokeness. The Claremont Institute has tracked federal funding for leftist institutions and activities since 2016, which amounts to over $3 billion taxpayer dollars. This money is spent not only to spread anti-American doctrines which will tear the nation apart; it also funds a class of activists, paying their salaries so they can be a perpetual revolutionary class.

Astonishingly, Congress sent more funding to woke institutions and activities in 2017 and 2018, when Republicans controlled both chambers, than it did in 2019 and 2020 with Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker’s chair. This Congress, we should aim to eliminate all such funding.

House Republicans demand defunding wokeness at the Department of Defense and in our education system. Wokeness is especially prevalent and dangerous at universities and in primary schools because the Left recognized students as the most vulnerable and useful targets for indoctrination. The Left has also pushed wokeness in the military. We must wonder what the Left wants to do with an anti-American military? For generations Americans never had to think about the Founders’ warnings about the dangers to civil government by a standing army. This has become an immediate question.

Third, we should use our oversight power to question woke federal officials and woke companies. CEOs at woke companies like Wells Fargo, which ties interest rates on certain credit facilities to borrowers’ diversity benchmarks, should fear public exposure and congressional scrutiny. 

Finally, anti-woke House Republicans should organize. That is why, this Congress, I will start the first ever “anti-woke caucus.”

I will regularly host meetings with anti-woke legislators and subject-matter experts.  My goal is to help myself and other Republicans better understand the long tentacles of the wokeness regime, the laws, regulations, and funding sources which support it, and explore legislative responses.

I know there are many more anti-woke legislators in the Republican Congress, and that we will find strength in numbers. An anti-woke caucus with members on the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, and Judiciary Committees, will work together to offer amendments that defund and expose wokeness at the NIH, the Justice Department, and every other federal agency. No bill that spends taxpayer dollars on leftist activities should pass out of committee without a recorded vote on an amendment to defund wokeness. 

House Republicans must tackle this greatest domestic threat to America today. The anti-woke caucus will help make use of our majority.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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