Tom Carter is the President of the American Conservative Values Fund, an ETF which conducts surveys that ranks companies in terms of the degree of left-wing ideological capture. You can find it at InvestConservative.com.
I recently talked with Tom on my podcast Meeting of Minds. Below are a few highlights from that discussion, lightly edited for clarity and length.
Jerry: You've done four or five of these surveys and they're not static, you're seeing some Delta, you know, companies are rising and falling. What are the trends that you've seen?
Tom: That's right, Jerry. We've done about five of these surveys now, and to your point, there's a constituency: some shareholders, some people just follow our research and like to hear what we're thinking about conservative investing. We go out and asked them to rank their three companies that are most hostile to conservative values. And what we saw in the first four surveys that we did was that Facebook, now Meta, was number one the whole time.
What we found in the last survey we did is that Disney had surpassed Meta, which we thought was very interesting. Disney's always been on the list. They've always been fourth or fifth, but this time they leapt in front of Meta and became the number one most disliked company for our constituency of conservative investors.
That's one trend we've seen. We also saw a trend where BlackRock went from kind of being in the mid-teens to basically number four now. So all this news about BlackRock, a lot of news about ESG and some of the greenwashing that they're trying to make companies do, from an ESG perspective, conservative investors have picked up on that. I don't think they like the fact that BlackRock is trying to force people people to follow their ideology.
Jerry: Interesting. I think you told me you had some shifts in the world of Twitter. What's happened there?
Tom: Obviously most conservatives know that the Twitter has blocked certain stories. Like when the New York Post was trying to report things about Hunter Biden's laptop. And during that time frame the reaction we saw to Twitter was very, very negative. It's improved since Elon Musk has gotten involved, has talked about getting them to open up a little more, and to advocate for actual free speech, as opposed to free speech only for the left, with the right's voices getting squelched to some extent. Since then, Twitter has actually become more popular among conservatives. Or at least less unpopular.
Jerry: The Twitter deal blew up after this spring. When people asked me at the time, I said that Elon Musk is probably not going to buy Twitter. The market price was never consistent with that scenario. What's going to end up happening, which is even better, is that he'll destroy its credibility. He'll have a war with Twitter, and Twitter will have no credibility yet. I don't think Twitter was ever fixable, and if it's not fixable, the next best thing is to destroy it.
Tom: That's what it looks like he's trying to do. I think he's trying to show that their actual subscriber base is a lot lower than people think it is. There's a lot more bots than people realize. And they were squelching conservative values, and voices, and allowing the left to run Twitter, if you will. And I think that's coming to air now. And I tend to agree with you, if he fully pulls back and Twitter's not fixed, I predict it'll go down in our survey again.
Jerry: What about Tesla? It was a liberal darling for a long time. I sat in on the last shareholder meeting and it's amazing how conservative it seemed. I don't even know if they're conservative, now that I think about it. But the Tesla liberals, however, have become very hostile to the ultra-left ESG stuff. All these people were showing up and giving their statements on behalf of these proposals. And when the moderator would say, okay, sorry, your time is elapsed, the crowd would cheer. This is Tesla! Electric cars, solar panels. So this is probably a liberal crowd, but even they seem to have had enough.
Tom: What's interesting is when we launched our product Tesla wasn't even an S&P 500 company, right? When they put Tesla in the S&P 500, we of course, put them in as well, in order to try to match as closely as we could with the S&P 500. And we had a debate about Tesla at the time: we knew Elon Musk was somewhat of a Libertarian. He wanted the government to leave him alone. He hated the COVID shutdowns, and actually left California because of that, and moved their headquarters to Texas. So there are certainly some conservative values that we see within Tesla.
And let's be clear: we're not against green energy. We're not against things that make the world better. We're just against mandates, or trying to force green energy on people. or the government subsidizing green energy when maybe the economics of it don't make sense. So we're not against Tesla, and in fact, Tesla is a holding in our product, and Tesla actually doesn't show up as hostile to conservative values very much in in our surveys. I think you're right. I think Tesla, although it is a green company, conservatives see it as at least somewhat conservative.
Jerry Bowyer is financial economist, president of Bowyer Research, and author of “The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics.”