DeSantis’ Disney Drama Turns Culture War Into Political Gains
At the campaign-style event on Monday where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law revising Disney’s quasi-governmental status, one of the more telling details was the assortment of individuals who served as his opening acts.
John Shirey, president of Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters, which provides emergency fire service to the Walt Disney World Resort, praised the governor’s takeover as a move ensuring that public safety is a top priority in the district. Next, a self-described “parent who no longer trusts Disney” blasted the company for teaching children to “be comfortable with or participate with immorality.” (Her family has canceled their annual park passes and discontinued using Disney’s streaming service.) Finally, a former Disney employee who claimed to have lost his job due to the company’s vaccine mandate praised the governor for his “courage and good sense” to stand up to the company.
If you’ve been following the DeSantis-versus-Disney drama during the past year, you might notice that these complaints don’t have much to do with why this fight started. Initially, DeSantis was punishing Disney for criticizing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. Rather than merely using state power to punish Disney and its former CEO for exercising their free speech rights, DeSantis has recast his actions as an effort to stem the tide of immorality in pop culture.
And by doing so, he’s using the culture war for his own personal and political gain.
Take another look at those three introductory speakers on Monday and you can see an update on Ronald Reagan’s famous “three-legged stool” of conservatism. In the 1980s, it was a fusion of Christian traditionalists, Cold War hawks, and fiscal conservatives. Those broad factions don’t meaningfully exist in contemporary politics, but DeSantis is probably correct that the GOP’s national coalition is best triangulated around public safety, conservative parents wary of cultural liberalism, and COVID reactionaries; with the last category ranging from people rightfully angered by how government and corporate elites handled the pandemic to anti-vax conspiracy theorists.
The new legs of the conservative stool are all sympathetic to DeSantis’ willingness to dispense with political checks and balances in order to slay a “woke” economic Goliath. DeSantis made that point more explicit in an op-ed published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal: “When corporations try to use their economic power to advance a woke agenda, they become p
Article from Reason.com