April 22, 2022, marked a big day for the conservative movement. In a rare moment, one of our leaders decided to get off of the sidelines and begin actually engaging in politics – something progressive politicians have been doing for decades. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, putting an end to the Walt Disney Company’s self-governing status in Florida.
The now-repealed charter was created in 1967 by Florida Governor Claude Kirk Jr. in response to lobbying efforts from Disney. The 1967 law created the district of Reedy Creek, originally the planned destination of Walt Disney’s utopian Epcot project. With the passage of the law, Florida allowed Disney to operate with the authority of a county or local government.
Much has changed since 1967. Epcot became Disney World, and ten governors of Florida have been sworn in since Kirk left office. More pertinently, Disney’s stated mission has transformed from developing family-friendly cartoons and movies to, as a leaked recording from a Disney staff meeting indicated, “adding queerness” to children’s programming and implementing a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda”. Yet, despite the company’s apparent penchant for social activism, Disney has retained its special privileges as the equivalent of a local government in the state of Florida — the only company in the state with such a position.
In light of the aforementioned leaked footage, tied to Disney publicly undermining the state’s laws, Governor Ron DeSantis has decided to put an end to the state’s friendly relationship with Disney. This is a classic example of good governance; public-private partnerships, especially ones as extensive as Disney’s relationship with the state of Florida, exist to serve the interests of the state’s population. As such, the state legislature and the governor are obligated to end these relationships when the company’s actions are no longer consistent with the good of the state. When companies like Disney fail to stand against something as basic as teaching gender ideology to children under nine years old, their ideology has clouded any notion of the public good they may have previously ascribed to, and they must not be treated as allies by the government.
Any suggestion that Disney would somehow benefit from exiting the deal misses the point. For one, DeSantis said he plans to sign future legislation reducing state costs tied to Reedy Creek. While we aren’t quite sure how everything will shake out by the time the law takes effect in June 2023, it’s not far-fetched to expect Disney to pick up some of the slack involving theme park security and cleanliness. Moreover, if Disney could have gained financially from exiting the agreement, they surely would have done so already. Their sinking stock price certainly doesn’t suggest that this move was fortuitous for them.
The hint of controversy on the right regarding this decision truly shows that many mainstream Republicans have no idea of what they are fighting for, or what winning in politics looks like. The Republican governor of Arkansas and Bush-era bureaucrat Asa Hutchinson, for instance, argued that DeSantis’ decision violates Republican principles. In some senses, he’s right — and that’s the problem. The fact that inaction in the face of blistering attacks has become a principle in the Republican Party is a disservice to the party’s voters and the nation as a whole. Republicans like Hutchinson, who prioritize corporate interests over principle every time, are thankfully in the rearview mirror, and those with bold ideas and policy solutions will lead the country into the future.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.