Today Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that revokes Disney’s virtually self-governing status in that state. The cause, of course, was Disney’s aggressive pro-groomer, anti-parent political stance. Not long ago it would have been unthinkable for a major corporation to stick its neck out in support of an unpopular, even radical political position that doesn’t even relate to the company’s business. Now perhaps we understand why.
The Wall Street Journal explains the significance of today’s action:
The bill will eliminate independent special districts in Florida established before 1968, and not since renewed, on June 1, 2023. It affects six such districts, most prominent among them the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created in 1967 and encompasses some 27,000 acres that includes Walt Disney World’s theme parks, hotels, resorts and other attractions.
For the past half-century, the district has allowed Disney to govern itself in Florida. The company pays taxes and fees to the district, and in return the district manages a wide variety of services for Walt Disney World, including fire and emergency medical services, road maintenance, wastewater management and power generation.
The district also allows Disney to expand its real estate holdings without having to follow local building, planning or environmental codes. Disney pays property taxes to Orange and Osceola counties in Florida, and contracts with the Orange County sheriff’s office for law enforcement at the resort.
It strikes me that Florida’s willingness to defend itself against political aggression by Disney is a sign of the times. Republicans, and conservatives generally, are no longer reflexively pro-business. The days of deference to corporate bottom lines are over. The GOP is the party of small business; big business, for the most part, went left some time ago. Today’s action can be seen as one sign among many of the ongoing realignment of American politics.