Florida vs. the House of Mouse

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy for president of the United States last week in a botched Twitter Spaces virtual event hosted by Elon Musk. It is not clear why DeSantis chose an unproven platform that apparently borrowed its technology from Myspace and chose a co-host who is infinitely more popular and recognizable than him, but that is a story for a different day.

DeSantis made a national name for himself during the COVID crisis in 2020 and 2021 by refusing to keep Florida in lockdown and taking a hard pro-business and pro-freedom stance. He distinguished himself in his resistance to the FDA, CDC, Dr. Fauci, and both President Trump and Joe Biden. People started to whisper, “he should run for president in 2024.”

On September 25, 2020, DeSantis signed “Executive Order 20-244, opening all Florida businesses regardless of local restrictions and suspending the collection of local fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 regulations upon individuals.” He lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida. “We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said as part of the signing ceremony. Demonstrating his pro-business stance to the nation.

Governor DeSantis went further and tried to help alleviate the nation’s supply chain crisis. He provided incentive packages to companies that wanted to off-load container ships in Florida ports. Said DeSantis, “Our seaports are used to operating around the clock,” a swipe at California’s Governor Gavin Newsom. “They are used to moving cargo for American families, farmers and businesses.”

Coming out of COVID, the governor pointed his guns at social issues, protecting children from sexual indoctrination, preventing critical race theory from being taught in schools, and ensuring that state-funded universities did not get lost in the morass of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This provided another opportunity to go up against President Trump. Trump talked about the evils of going woke, but DeSantis legislated against it.

But then DeSantis made a grave political error. When one of Florida’s major employers pushed back on the laws, DeSantis attacked them in what appeared to be a petty, anti-business manner. Mr. DeSantis chose to attack the House of Mouse in a manner that made him look like a petulant child, not a leader. Governor DeSantis missed a golden opportunity to use the situation to fight crony capitalism rather than merely punishing a company that disagreed with his legislative agenda.

Disney and DeSantis (who previously had taken $50,000 in contributions from the theme park giant) first battled over COVID policies while DeSantis was opening up Florida, as Disney took a more CDC-directed approach to come out of the pandemic—requiring proof of vaccination for employees and continuing to limit the number of park attendees who had to still wear face coverings once Disney World reopened. 

Capitulating to the woke mob within its employee ranks, Disney was very vocal in criticizing DeSantis over his “Florida is where woke comes to die” agenda, citing that his removal of books that promoted the sexualization of children, anti-CRT and his pushback against the trans agenda were both radical in nature and we’re not the shared values of Disney which for decades now have moved left in their social views, now regularly making movies and shows which incorporate DEI and more hyper-sexualized characters and storylines. 

DeSantis then set his sights on the Magic Kingdom after then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek vowed Disney would back a repeal of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, christened by the Left as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. DeSantis countered shortly thereafter, passing legislation terminating the long-standing, state-sponsored, sweetheart agreement, revoking Disney’s special tax status. 

Most of DeSantis’ opponents for the GOP nomination have come out on the side of Disney, bashing the governor for his apparent pettiness and an approach to Disney they consider more interventionist than conservative.

DeSantis would have been much better served if he instead had attacked the crony capitalism of Disney’s sweetheart land and tax deals with Florida. He then could have said that it is not up to the state to pick winners and losers. This is the honest conservative approach. He then could have engaged Disney in its “wokeness,” appearing to be conservative, pro-business, and anti-woke. But as the political ads have been saying for months, “Ron DeSantis just isn’t ready.”

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About Jim Nelles and Rone Washington

Jim Nelles is a supply chain consultant based in Chicago, Illinois and a regular contributor to the National Pulse. He has served as a chief procurement officer, chief supply chain officer, and a chief operations officer for multiple companies. Rone Washington is executive producer of the Steak for Breakfast podcast.

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images