The forces that put Disney and the GOP on a collision course

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What is happening

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill eliminating a special tax district — which allowed the Walt Disney Co. to exercise a form of autonomy around its Orlando-area parks — in retaliation. to the company’s opposition to a new law that limits discussion of gender and sexual identity in schools across the state.

after first Resist employee pressure and the LGBTQ community to speak out against the school legislation, which critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney called it a “challenge to fundamental human rights”. On the day the bill was enacted, the company released a statement saying his goal is to see the legislation repealed or struck down by a court.

Within days, Florida Republicans started asking Disney to lose its special tax status which, over the past 55 years, has granted the company the power to manage approximately 25,000 acres of land without direct control from local governments. The state legislature voted to do so last week. There is a debate about the impact that the elimination of the tax zone will have, including concerns that local residents could end up footing the bill for millions of dollars in services that Disney has always paid for.

DeSantis, who is widely seen as a potential candidate for president in 2024, and the Republican-controlled Florida legislature have been among the GOP’s most enthusiastic participants in the so-called culture war. In addition to their recent ruling against Disney and the “Don’t Say Gay” law that preceded that ruling, the state has prohibited textbooks which include “banned topics” such as discussions of race, introduced new tenure limitations at public universities, fought repeatedly over COVID mitigation strategies, and created a new police force dedicated to prosecuting voter fraud.

Why there is debate

There is a fair discussion about whether companies should get benefits like the tax zone that Disney has enjoyed for many years. But much of the conversation stemming from that dispute has centered on larger issues, namely how the country has come to a point where a political party that has defined itself in the past by its reverence for the market free would enthusiastically attack one of the largest parties in the world. recognizable companies.

Many experts say the ruling against Disney is representative of how the GOP moved away from the economic conservatism that was central to the Reagan era and fully embraced the cultural conflicts that played a major role in political success. of Donald Trump. Leftist critics, however, argue that the dispute is indicative of the GOP’s willingness to use government levers to suppress any challenge to its authority.

On the other side of the dispute is Disney, a company that has built an entertainment empire based on its ability to create products that appeal to everyone. But cultural critics say that as demands for social justice, equality and representation become more important, it’s simply impossible for big business to stay out of the fray. This can put companies in a precarious position in which progressives demand they do more while, at the same time, conservatives accuse companies of bowing to “woke” political pressure.

And after

Disney’s Special Tax Zone won’t be officially revoked until June of next year, so it may be time for the company and the state legislature to come to an agreement that allows the zone to to survive in some form. Some legal experts also think there is a good chance that tthe law will be repealed by the courts as a violation of the First Amendment.


Political neutrality is not an option for big business in today’s America

“Disney’s business plan is to welcome everyone and minimize exclusion of anyone. From its movies and theme parks to its hotels and vacation packages, Disney has created an image that Disney is for everyone. The company’s political fight with DeSantis…might very well break that portrait one way or another, and perhaps create a more realistic picture of who the company is willing to stand with and who that she might disappoint. —Alex Abad-Santos Voice

Companies are afraid to antagonize left-wing activists

“Major corporations of all stripes have completely bought into the Democratic Party’s culture battles, whether they believe in the causes or are simply afraid of mean-spirited tweets from activists or unfavorable media coverage.” —Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

Businesses have significant financial incentives to drive social progress

“21st century America is more diverse and more tolerant, a change that the free market logically reflects. … Conservatives denounce this change as ‘woke’ corporate infiltration and subjugation ignore a simpler explanation: corporations respond to market forces. —Robert Schlesinger, New Republic

Culture wars put companies in an impossible position

“Disney is caught between a rock and a hard place. … I suspect their lobbyists told them, ‘You know, shut up about it’ and that’s what they tried to do, but they didn’t couldn’t because the cast members stood up and said, ‘You have to oppose it.’ diverse.—Charles Zelden, legal historian, Guardian

Conservatives are tired of companies attacking their political views

“At some point the Tories were going to have to make an example of one of these companies, not just complain after they ran away. … Suing Disney is punching the victim in the nose to correct the bully: Stop attacking us, or we’ll fight back. —Ryan Ellis, National exam

The GOP is wisely abandoning the hardcore pro-business positions of its past

“So DeSantis’ decision makes perfect political sense; his crusade against Disney responds to the cultural and economic views of a large majority of his constituents. … So he delivered a political masterstroke, regardless of what one might think of the relevance of his effort. — Henry Olsen Washington Post

The GOP will do anything to defend its political power

“The real meaning of Disney’s decision is that today’s conservatives will do anything to maintain social control, including abandoning any last, slender pretense of supporting the Bill of Rights or other pillars of American democracy. In 2022, they will throw away books, destroy teachers’ lives, and deliberately prevent your child from learning – all of which will prevent the arc of a moral universe from leaning toward justice.—Will Bunch, Philadelphia plaintiff

Republicans want to punish any person or organization that does not support their party line

“Shaking up Fantasyland after half a century is one thing. But is this the price of political dissent? Which company, which industry, which institution is next? And where is Florida going under this Republican leadership if more voices fall silent and walk away? — Editorial, Tampa Bay Weather

Florida Republicans exaggerate their part in the culture wars

“For conservative Central American parents of short stature of young children, waiting until the end of third grade for their children to learn about homosexuality – or simply teach them about it themselves, in the privacy of their own home, as is their right—seems reasonable enough, at least looking at the polls. But claiming that corporate America is engaged in a mass conspiracy to make your children gay definitely doesn’t. —Derek Robertson, Politics

Decades of insider deals set companies and lawmakers up for a volatile breakup

“America is positively pervaded by crony capitalism – the practice of bestowing government favors on corporations or industries. … This complex system of tax breaks and benefits creates an entanglement between business and the state that leads both parties to believe that they should have inordinate influence over the other.—David French, Atlantic

Business leaders have forgotten that their job is to make profits, not proclamations

“Disney’s intervention in Florida politics again highlights the problems that arise when companies stray from their central goal of creating long-term shareholder value.” —James Freeman, the wall street journal

Conservative lawmakers are consistently rewarded for picking culture fights

“We can expect to see more battles for schools, cartoons and toddler board books and more ‘brainwashing’ and ‘grooming’ summons. Because many on the right know that this is not only good for their politics, but also for their wallets. —Nicole Hemmer, CNN

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Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael Reaves/Getty Images, MN Chan/Getty Images, Getty Images

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