It’s been one heck of a back and forth between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in recent weeks. Disney spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education Bill — also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — which DeSantis supported. DeSantis retaliated and worked with his fellow Florida Republicans to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act — which allowed Disney to act as its own government.
DeSantis has signed the bill to dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District on June 1, 2023, but there are a lot of legal issues standing in his way and, according to a new report, he may not care if he fails. In a report from The Hill, insiders are saying that DeSantis doesn’t care if the bill is deemed to be illegal, because he has already benefitted from it. Per The Hill:
In particular, Gov. DeSantis would likely be quite content if the bill were deemed to be illegal; he has already reaped the benefit of its passage. That benefit was to signal to Republican primary voters that he will take on big businesses if they don’t toe the line regarding his cultural preferences (and those of the voters he hopes to win over). Whether those big businesses actually bear any costs is beside the point. The passage of the legislation had a symbolic purpose; it was a Republican form of virtue signaling…
This is the playbook that Gov. DeSantis is following. Take a bold action that will garner headlines. If doing so is in service of a cause valued by many Republican primary voters, all the better. Then don’t worry so much if the action ends up getting reversed or never goes into effect.
The current iteration of the Republican Party has been described as “post-policy.” Changing public policy is secondary to getting credit for doing so. And it is even better if the claim you are making is an example of “owning the libs.”
Even though the move to dissolve Reedy Creek is being applauded by Republicans, it is potentially firing up Democratic voters and legislators who want to see DeSantis defeated this year when he runs for reelection. Right now, Florida has slightly more registered Republican voters than registered Democrats, but there are more than 4 million voters who have not registered with a party. Democratic politicians are looking to target those voters and get them to agree that DeSantis has crossed a line and doesn’t care about the law as long as he can get revenge on a company that merely exercised its First Amendment Rights.
It is also being reported that Governor DeSantis knows that his bill will fail, and he and his people are working with Disney’s lawyers to help him “save face.” This could be a win for Disney, as its conservative base will think that DeSantis has won, so they go back to spending money at Disney. Meanwhile, the bill will have zero effect, so Disney and Reedy Creek will keep operating the way they always have.