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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

DeSantis Takes Mouse Scalp

'Old-guard corporate Republicanism' isn't up to fighting Woke Capitalists, says Florida governor -- who is
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Ron DeSantis explains in the WSJ (possibly paywalled) why he ended Walt Disney World's sweet corporate welfare deal. Did you know this?:

Disney’s special arrangement, which dates to 1967, was an indefensible example of corporate welfare. It provided the company with favorable tax treatment, including the ability to assess its own property valuations and to enjoy the benefits of regional infrastructure improvements without paying taxes toward the projects. It exempted Disney from Florida’s building and fire-prevention codes. It even allowed Disney to build a nuclear power plant and to use eminent domain to seize private property outside the district’s boundaries. While special districts are common in Florida, Disney’s deal was conspicuous in the massive benefits it conferred. Disney’s self-governing status endured because the company’s unrivaled political power in Florida made its arrangement virtually untouchable.

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What happened? More:

For more than 50 years, the state of Florida put Disney on a pedestal. That all changed last year, when left-wing activists working at the company’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., pressured Disney to oppose Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. The legislation bans classroom instruction on sexuality and gender ideology in kindergarten through third grade and requires that sex instruction in other grades be age-appropriate. Disney executives were seen on videos boasting about the company’s plans to inject sexuality into its programming for children.

DeSantis goes on to explain that the Great Awokening has turned corporations into culture warriors for the Left. In 2015, the first time corporations did this in a big way -- over the Indiana RFRA law -- then-Gov. Mike Pence backed down. It has taken eight years, but in Ron DeSantis, we finally have a Republican governor who is willing to take scalps, and put woke capitalists back in their place. He goes on:

The regrettable upshot of the woke ascendancy is that publicly traded corporations have become combatants in battles over American politics and culture, almost invariably siding with leftist causes. It is unthinkable that large companies would side with conservative Americans on the Second Amendment, the right to life, election integrity or religious liberty.

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It is indeed regrettable -- but this is the choice corporations made when they chose to become political actors. The worshipful corporatism of the traditional GOP is getting conservatives smashed by woke capitalists and the progressive politicians whose handmaids they are. Writes DeSantis:

In this environment, old-guard corporate Republicanism isn’t up to the task at hand. For decades, GOP elected officials have campaigned on free-market principles but governed as corporatists—supporting subsidies, tax breaks and legislative carve-outs to confer special benefits on entrenched corporate interests. But policies that benefit corporate America don’t necessarily serve the interests of America’s people and economy.

When corporations try to use their economic power to advance a woke agenda, they become political, and not merely economic, actors. In such an environment, reflexively deferring to big business effectively surrenders the political battlefield to the militant left. Having private companies wield de facto public power isn’t in the best interests of most Americans.

Woke ideology is a form of cultural Marxism. Leaders must stand up and fight back when big corporations make the mistake, as Disney did, of using their economic might to advance a political agenda. We are making Florida the state where the economy flourishes because we are the state where woke goes to die.

Hallelujah! Finally, a senior American Republican politician has learned what Viktor Orban figured out a long time ago: that in a political environment in which the Left exercises political power through supposedly non-political institutions, the Right has no choice but to fight back hard, and take scalps. Old-school Republicans really are clueless in these matters -- and Trumpy Republicans aren't a lot better, because they satisfy themselves with emotional displays rather than hit the woke capitalists where it hurts.

Frankly, I bet a lot of CEOs are secretly happy that DeSantis is doing this, because it gives them a reason to blow off the activist employees. More backlash, please!

Hey US Republican lawmakers, the weather's warming up here on the Danube. Come over and learn a few things about how to understand the workings of power in the postliberal era.

(And hey readers, you have only about one week of this TAC blog left -- come join the paid subscribers of Rod Dreher's Diary. It's only five dollars a month, or fifty dollars a year. We're going to have a lot of fun with the 2024 primaries. And good news: the comments section is BACK!)

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JON FRAZIER
JON FRAZIER
Is this from an alternate timeline? In this one, the special tax district has survived, with the blessing of the Florida state legislature and some face saving tweaks so DeSantis can claim he accomplished something at least.
schedule 12 months ago
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    Reference, please.
    schedule 12 months ago
      JON FRAZIER
      JON FRAZIER
      The original plan was to eliminate the special tax district altogether. Turned out neither the local governments which would have had to pick up the not-insignificant tab nor the state legislature was at all on board with that. So This was arranged instead, which lets DeSantis act he accomplished something while Disney gets to keep its perks and privileges as long as it genuflects toward Tallahassee a but more often.
      schedule 12 months ago
        Theodore Iacobuzio
        Theodore Iacobuzio
        Compromise. I hate when that happens. Much better Goofy appear in drag. Whatever.
        schedule 12 months ago
        Peter Kurilecz
        Peter Kurilecz
        sorry Jon but that's not a reference. need a link or the title of an article
        schedule 12 months ago
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Yeah, here goes QAnon Jon again.
    schedule 12 months ago
    MPC
    MPC
    It's better than taking over directly. Disney keeps the district, including all of its debts and the responsibility to service them, but loses de facto control over municipal and development decisions. Giving the state of Florida leverage over Disney.
    schedule 12 months ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Hoping DeSantis follows Orban on other important issues too. He might.
schedule 12 months ago
JON FRAZIER
JON FRAZIER
Meanwhile we have this little gem gestating in the Florida legislature.
https://twitter.com/JonahDispatch/status/1631443541460221954

Note that the "Jonah" here is Jonah Goldberg, not some screaming lefty.
Can you say "soft totalitarianism"? Rod himself might be immune to prosecution since he's overseas, but would anyone think it a good idea? A public license required to wrote about the Governor of Florida?
schedule 12 months ago
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    Theodore Iacobuzio
    You and Goldberg are shocked SHOCKED to find there are goobers in Florida. He didn't mind so much in 2000.
    schedule 12 months ago