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DeSantis and his fragile ego will lose battle with Disney

May 11, 2023

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) refuses to back down in his ongoing feud with Disney. The entertainment giant is suing DeSantis and his handpicked board overseeing Disney World in Orlando, claiming the state takeover of its theme park district was retaliation for criticizing the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. Republicans like Donald Trump and Chris Christie sided with the corporate giant, but polls show Republican voters support DeSantis going to war with one of the Sunshine State’s biggest employers.

Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid says DeSantis has dug himself a deep hole due to his fragile ego and predicts he will lose the battle with Disney.

What DeSantis is doing is he’s trying to take away Disney’s status as a special district. This is basically when a company makes a deal with the state under which they can form a board that effectively controls the area surrounding their business, managing and importantly, paying for things like water, fire, building codes, and so forth. Now DeSantis tried to punish Disney by taking away this status, even going so far as to float ideas like, “Let’s put a maximum security prison right there next to Splash Mountain.” But then he realized that if he were to take away this special district status, he would have to pay for the things Disney’s current board was handling.

So he decided instead to replace the board with a new board. But before this new board took effect, the old board put in place all these regulations saying that the new board couldn’t do anything without Disney’s approval, which is objectively awesome. The new board obviously wanted to get rid of these regulations so as to regain power. And that’s when Disney said, “Nope, get off my porch.” And they sued. 

DeSantis is trying to frame this as a, you know, “Disney has to play by the same rules as the rest of us” thing, which I guess means publicly rejecting all those terrible, horrible people who still say the word “gay.” But here’s the thing. Special districts aren’t especially uncommon in Florida. In fact, The Villages, you know that uber-Republican retirement community, is one of them, as is the Daytona Speedway, another conservative-leaning business. Shall DeSantis be going after these special districts? I doubt it.

I am fascinated by this Ron DeSantis versus Disney battle, mostly because well, many things that Republican leaders do are perplexing to me. I find this one just flat-out insane, like in the self-preservation way. Why is Ron DeSantis taking on the third-largest employer in the state of Florida and what does he possibly see himself gaining from this? Let’s discuss.
This all started last year when the former CEO of Disney criticized DeSantis’s legislation about talking about gender and sexual orientation in schools — the “don’t say gay” bill. Since DeSantis has an iron spine and rock-solid convictions, he took this in stride and oh, I’m just kidding. He threw a toddler-sized fit and started war with the freakin’ Magic Kingdom, because that’s what grown men hoping to become presidential candidates that they can lead our country with a strong, steady hand do.
What DeSantis is doing is he’s trying to take away Disney’s status as a special district. This is basically when a company makes a deal with the state under which they can form a board that effectively controls the area surrounding their business, managing and importantly, paying for things like water, fire building codes, and so forth. Now DeSantis tried to punish Disney by taking away this status, even going so far as to float ideas like, “let’s put a maximum security prison right there next to Splash Mountain.” But then he realized that if he were to take away this special district status, he would have to pay for the things Disney’s current board was handling.

So he decided instead to replace the board with a new board. But before this new board took effect, the old board put in place all these regulations saying that the new board couldn’t do anything without Disney’s approval, which is objectively awesome. The new board obviously wanted to get rid of these regulations so as to regain power. And that’s when Disney said nope, get off my porch. And they sued.
DeSantis is trying to frame this as a, you know, “Disney has to play by the same rules as the rest of us thing,” which I guess means publicly rejecting all those terrible, horrible people who still say the word gay. But here’s the thing. Special districts aren’t especially uncommon in Florida. In fact, the Villages, you know that uber-Republican retirement community, is one of them, as is the Daytona Speedway, another conservative-leaning business. Shall DeSantis be going after these special districts? I doubt it.

Disney is also hugely important to Florida’s economy. Aside from the aforementioned employment, they pay a tremendous amount in taxes to the state. And let’s also not forget that despite the fact that Disney appears to be left-leaning publicly, they’ve actually been a huge donor to Republican PACs, because they accurately perceived that it would behoove them to do so in a Republican-led state. So this doesn’t make sense on any level. Even Marco Rubio expressed concern about DeSantis’ battle.

[ insert clip in which he talks about how businesses won’t want to come to Florida.]

Yeah, when you make politics a part of how you deal with businesses, you make businesses who don’t want to be a part of your politics not want to be there. And current Disney CEO Bob Iger is framing this as DeSantis starting a war not on values, but on businesses. He’s considering the problem not from the perspective of politics, but from the perspective of Florida’s economy. And that is why DeSantis is going to lose this battle that he started frankly, for no reason whatsoever, than his own fragile, tiny little ego.

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