DeSantis and Disney
At a news conference Monday, Republicans decried an “egregious form of corporate welfare,” vowed to uphold “governance in a republic” and stop “special deals” for corporations like Disney.
Before Gov. Ron DeSantis anointed himself guardian of good morals against Mickey Mouse, lawmakers were happy to take Disney’s cash and draft legislation two years ago that allowed the corporation to evade Florida’s social-media crackdown.
There are plenty of reasons to go after Disney and its outsized power to self-govern in Central Florida. To use DeSantis’ own words, “We are a government of laws, not of individual men.” Or corporations.
If DeSantis were to follow his own words, however, there would be no fight with Disney to begin with. This is revenge against the company’s opposition to a parental-rights law critics call “Don’t say gay.” It should serve as a prelude to what a potential DeSantis administration would do if he ascends to the White House. He is expected to announce he’s running for president after the legislative session ends next month.
Consider what DeSantis would do if given a bigger bully pulpit, more authority and more bravado. It’s not unreasonable to assume that the so-called leader of the free world could use the weight of his office to go after any corporation, government agency or adversary. Today, DeSantis’ enemy might be your enemy, too. Tomorrow, it might be a different story.
Days before the Legislature voted on that last bill in February, Disney outmaneuvered the governor. The district board, still under Disney control, quietly approved a deal that limits the power of what the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board can do with its property. The deal also prohibits the new board from using the Disney name without approval.
DeSantis swore investigations and payback, bringing us to his announcement Monday.
Now the party of few business regulations is vowing to use the government’s machinery to inflict pain. DeSantis wants Disney’s maneuver dissolved and state oversight over the company’s monorail and amusement rides. We would normally applaud more safety regulations, but, on Monday, DeSantis hinted only Disney would be affected and not all of Florida’s major theme parks.
The possibilities indeed are endless for Florida’s supreme governor, who will abuse the power of his office to practice the petty politics of revenge.