Surprise! Well not really. As Kimberley Strassel writes in the WSJ, Donald Trump’s “reflexive defense” of Disney, is providing the “GOP an overdue opportunity to rethink its relationship with increasingly woke corporate America.”
No surprise that Orange Man dumped on DeSantis. The shock is that the former president’s disdain of his rival has landed him crosswise with the base.
There is a reason Mr. DeSantis is taking on woke Disney—Republican voters love it. So eager was Mr. Trump to join liberals on attack, he put himself on the side of a company that disdains parental rights, axed the words “boys and girls” in park greetings, and just announced it would host the world’s largest LGBTQ+ conference. This is unlikely to sit well with conservative voters, and unlikely to be the only time Mr. Trump puts himself in this spot.
No surprise here, the DeSantis-Disney fracas has inspired other presidential hopefuls to weigh in.
Chris Christie explained that Mr. DeSantis’s effort to “punish” the company meant he wasn’t “a conservative.”
Mike Pence criticized the bill stripping Disney of local governing authority as “beyond the scope” of what a “limited-government Republican” should do.
Meanwhile, the DeSantis team refers its Disney actions not as retribution, but as a principled attempt to reduce Disney’s “special privilege” and create an “even playing field.”
The GOP and Corporate America
The GOP has long been the party of free markets, which effectively allies it with “business.” Yet defending that crew becomes harder as corporate America alienates conservatives with political and culture wars. The Chamber of Commerce backs antibusiness House Democrats. Delta slams Georgia’s election reform. Banks divest from fossil fuels. ESG, Bud Light labels, Gillette’s “toxic masculinity” and Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ads and Big tech censorship.
One of the enterprising presidential aspirants might see the benefit of filling that space with the below simple proposition, advises Ms. Strassel:
A Simple Refreshing Stance:
The GOP is cutting the corporate cord.
The GOP won’t weaponize government against business.
The GOP won’t coddle business.
The GOP will support broad-based free-market reforms, if primarily to support American’s millions of small businesses.
The days of lobbyists and elite corporate welfare—subsidies, tax credits, handouts—are over.
Fortune 500 never needed this help—and certainly don’t deserve it now.
“Just think of the taxpayer savings,” offers Ms. Strassel. Think of the clarity.
What Is the GOP’s Position
The party doesn’t seem capable of drawing a line between its “support for free markets and the ills of corporate welfare and rent seeking,” notes Ms. Strassel.
For every Republican who sensibly votes to lower overall corporate tax rates, there’s another swilling dollars on tax credits and subsidies for favored industries. For every GOP legislature that eases regulatory burdens to create a better business environment, there’s a GOP governor bribing companies to relocate with tax incentive packages.
Republican politicians who feel the need to do more might remember that—as in everything—real America does things better than government. Consumers are already punishing woke corporations—see Bud’s desperate new pro-America ad or Disney’s operating losses. Maybe the party of free markets can trust the free market to work.
Americans salute and celebrate entrepreneurship. What Americans despise is special corporate treatment.
Republicans might try joining them in what is a quite straightforward—and refreshing—position.