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DeSantis's Battle With Disney Continues

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appeared in headlines again as his legal challenges against Disney reached an extreme point on Monday. The governor aims to create a bill that would give power back to the board for Disney to which he appointed members. This piece will examine Governor DeSantis’s issues with Disney as well as what this means for the governor’s future as a potential candidate for the upcoming presidential election. 


Governor DeSantis’s struggle with Disney began last March when he created the “Don’t Say, Gay Bill,” known more formally as the Parental Rights in Education Act or House Bill 1557. This law now prohibits any instruction and discussion regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in some cases. Further, parents are now a lot more involved in their child’s school life as they are notified any time students seek out mental, emotional, or physical health services - except in a few minor cases - and can opt their child out of counseling. Parents are also able to sue schools if this law is not followed. 


So what does this have to do with Disney? Later, Disney’s chief executive Bob Chapek broke the company’s silence accidentally in an email to the company, saying it opposed the bill. This was after an abundance of pressure on Disney to be involved with this bill, especially after former chief executive Robert A. Igor protested the statement on Twitter. After Chapek’s memo got out, #boycottDisney was trending on Twitter.


Governor DeSantis then aimed to restrict more of Disney’s independence, claiming he didn’t want a “woke corporation” to be running Florida. In early February, he gained control of Disney’s board but noted that he also wanted to remove some of Disney’s special privileges that essentially allow it to govern itself. But a problem arose when Governor DeSantis attempted to do so as he would be abolishing Disney’s special tax district, forcing locals to pay more in taxes. Thus, the governor had to yield; however, he would still be responsible for choosing the board members who decide the park’s development. 


But after that, Disney began working quietly to limit the board’s power before the governor could appoint new members. One board member noted that this essentially stripped away the board’s ability to do anything but essential work on roads and infrastructure. A spokeswoman for the governor said the new board would be forced to investigate Disney’s behavior. 


While the board cannot control Disney’s content, there have been several references to Disney’s newer inclusion of LGBTQ+ stories from Governor DeSantis and the board members he appointed. The governor remarked that his board members would rather “see Disney be what Walt envisioned.” One of the five board members the governor appointed was Mr. Peri, chief executive of a Christian ministry in Orlando who once spread the false theory that tap water makes people gay. 


And now, last Monday, Governor DeSantis announced new legislation to punish Disney for its actions, suggesting the idea of reviewing Disney’s taxes and adding other infrastructure near the park, potentially even a prison. This bill would also give power back to the board that Disney had previously taken away. 


The governor is also receiving pushback from other Republicans, such as former President Donald Trump and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Trump poked fun at the Florida governor, calling him “DeSanctus,” while the former governor challenged DeSantis’s political party, saying his actions resembled those of a liberal. This criticism appears to be coming from Republican politicians who do not want Governor DeSantis to run for President in the 2024 election. 


Governor DeSantis has not officially declared his run for President but has been expected to be the Republican nominee for quite some time now. His restrictions on not only LGBTQ+ matters but also matters of race and abortion have appealed to many Conservative Americans. However, his popularity among politicians appears to decrease as former President Trump has received seven endorsements from Florida Congress members while Governor DeSantis has only received one. The former President has also gotten endorsements from nine Republican Senators and forty-three Republican House members, compared to the governor’s zero Senators and three House members. Former President Trump’s numbers in the polls have also been increasing; however, his and President Joe Biden’s numbers in the polls are tied.


Moreover, Governor DeSantis likely is arguing with Disney to be similar to former President Trump and run in his stead. After the former President’s drastic actions and stances, such as challenging the results of the 2020 election and creating the January 6th insurrection, he changed American politics. Now, several Republican politicians are attempting to copy his work - for example, Governor De Santis is taking an extreme stance against abortion. These wild acts lead to media attention and, potentially, votes. 


As Governor DeSantis continues to wage war against a corporation solely for opposing one of his policies, the question remains, when does this stop being a political issue and become a personal agenda for the governor? Or has it maybe already?


Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe

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Tags: #trump #disney #desantis #election2024


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