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DeSantis Was 100% Right to Go After Disney So Hard
Sending exactly the right message
Given that Republicans are almost instinctively in favor of free markets, low taxes, lax regulations, and capitalism, you’d think that corporations would LOVE THEM. Especially since the Democrats spend so much time railing against corporations, calling for higher taxes, more regulations, less capitalism, and more government control. However, as a practical matter, it doesn’t really work that way. Some corporations give a lot of money to the Left and others to the Right, but most simply shift with the political winds. They give to both parties with more going to whichever side they believe is about to take power. Of course, this would be futile if Democrats wouldn’t play ball, but the reality is that Democrats are always happy to cooperate with big business behind the scenes if there’s enough money or political gain at stake.
If you want to understand this dynamic, imagine a man who is dating two different women. One of them (the Republican) is out of her mind over him. She’ll do anything to please him, she’ll forgive him for almost anything, and she worships the ground he walks on. The other woman (the Democrat) is often difficult and can be vindictive, but if he chases, sweet talks, and caters to her enough, she’ll spend the night with him. So, if he has a date with both women on the same night, which one is he skipping? Which woman is he going to try harder to woo? Exactly. The Republican woman is always going to get the short end of the stick in that scenario.
As a practical matter, it looks something like this in the real world. Republicans will fight relentlessly for the interests of big business. In return, since Republicans are doing it out of principle, big business doesn’t really feel compelled to return the favor. If the issue at hand is important to the corporation’s business model, they will go against the GOP. Republicans are generally fine with this. They’ll donate cash to whichever party best serves their interests in each particular election. Republicans will not hold this against them. If they do decide to contribute almost entirely to the Democrats, Republicans usually won’t hold this against them. For the most part, even if a corporation institutes practices that infuriate conservatives, Republicans won’t hold this against them (there are a few exceptions here, but not a lot).
This unwritten agreement between Republicans and big business is actually extraordinarily favorable towards corporations. Yet and still, corporations have increasingly decided that their one-sided deal isn’t slanted enough in their favor. So, as a way to cater to the woke Left, they’ve decided to openly target and smear Republicans on issues that really have nothing to do with their business. Whether it is Coke and Major League Baseball lying about Georgia’s voter reform bill, the NFL openly siding with Black Lives Matter against the police and the GOP, or Disney coming out against a bill designed to keep small children from being exposed to sexually explicit teaching, they all represent an enormous break from how things have been done in the past.
Unsurprisingly, some Republicans think we should just take a “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” attitude towards this. Ron DeSantis disagrees. Instead of meekly allowing Disney to lie about this bill in a way that smears Republicans and openly targets the Republican Party, he’s decided to send a warning shot across their bow. DeSantis and the GOP are moving to eliminate the independent special district that allows Disney to essentially govern itself. It’s an enormous perk and the very possibility that it might be taken away seems to be one of the multiple things that caused Disney’s stock to tank by roughly 8% this week:
The Florida Legislature voted this week to abolish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which in effect lets Disney World run its own private government. Created by the Legislature in 1967, the district covers about 40 square miles and features two water parks and four theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom. Disney essentially controls land use, environmental protection, fire service, utilities, more than 100 miles of roads, and more.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill. The Journal cites a source who knows Disney’s finances and says the district saves the company tens of millions of dollars a year. Without it, services like fixing potholes could revert to county government.
Disney largely funds the Reedy Creek district, which had about $150 million in revenue last year. … It dissolves the Reedy Creek district on June 1, 2023—time for Disney and Mr. DeSantis to make up.
Naturally, some Republicans are outraged by what DeSantis did. Here’s Allah Pundit from Hot Air on this move:
There’s a famous quote from a former president of Peru that goes like this: “For my friends, everything. For my enemies, the law.” That line succinctly captures the capriciousness of a corrupt system in which your legal jeopardy depends less on your behavior than whether you’re in good favor with the ruler. It also captures DeSantis’s attitude towards Disney. When Disney was his “friend,” it got a special exemption from the anti-tech bill and its special tax district was untouchable. Now that it’s become his “enemy,” the exemption is gone and its autonomous district is on the way out. In the Trump-era GOP, all of this gets filed under “he fights!” and “big punitive government is good so long as it’s punishing the right people.”
Now here’s Charles Cooke at National Review:
This escalation represents an ugly and ill-conceived mistake, a blemish on DeSantis’s otherwise mostly excellent gubernatorial record. Those who have defended the move argue that sticking it to Disney in this matter demonstrates that the Republican Party is willing to “fight” and will thus represent a victory for conservatism. But this is silly. Admirably, Governor DeSantis has already fought Disney, and he has already won. The policy about which Disney chose stupidly to complain is now Florida law. It passed both houses of the state legislature; it was signed by DeSantis, who had been correctly defiant in the face of Disney’s gripes; and it enjoys the support of broad majorities of Floridians. There is no need for the Republican Party of Florida to salt the earth here; it has prevailed in every particular.
I’ve written for both Hot Air and National Review. I’ve also been reading both Allah Pundit and Charles Cooke for years and enjoy their writing. I mean that. They both do excellent work and I agree with them on most things. That being said, respectfully, I think this sort of naive complacency is one of the biggest legitimate gripes people have about the Republican Party. It’s a big part of why the country has gone backward over the last decade or two, why Donald Trump is popular on the Right, and has a lot to do with why the GOP can’t effectively govern.
There are an awful lot of conservatives, me included, who think the country is getting into an increasingly dangerous place and there are so many elected officials and prominent personalities who seem almost impossibly unconcerned about all of it. It seems like there’s no line that can be crossed that can get more than a shrug out of them. Disney actually crossed a big line and no, simply prevailing despite their opposition isn’t enough of a “victory.” If corporations like Disney want to make a point of trying to publicly torpedo the Republican Party on the hot political issues of the day to score points with the woke Left, then they should be made to realize that there can be big consequences for doing that. It was Disney, not DeSantis, that decided to escalate the situation and yes, the threat of doing away with the Reedy Creek District (I wouldn’t be surprised if it never actually happened) sends EXACTLY THE RIGHT MESSAGE that Disney and other corporations need to hear right now. Yes, conservatives are pro-business, but there should be a difference between that and being a cheap date who’s willing to suffer any indignity rather than rock the boat. It’s all well and good to talk about principles, but if your political principles lead to you regularly getting treated like a sucker while your supporters are bullied and smeared, then either you’re misunderstanding those principles or they’re simply not very good in the first place. It is absolutely true that today that some conservatives put too much emphasis on being willing to fight. Some battles aren’t worth it, and everything doesn’t need to be a knockdown, drag-out fight. However, it’s worth noting that this attitude came about in the first place as a result of frustration at the opposite extreme that we’ve seen so long in the Republican Party; losing battle after battle simply because we refuse to fight. Just as Trump made the right call in going after the NFL, DeSantis made the right call when he went after Disney. The only way these corporations are going to start to respect conservatives again instead of taking us for granted is if we give them a reason to do it. Ron DeSantis just did exactly that.