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Tony Perkins / April 26, 2022

Disney’s Cinderella Story Comes to an End at Reedy Creek

Has Disney learned its lesson? Don’t count on it.

For once, Disney has no comment. Bob Chapek’s company, whose loudmouth Leftists pushed the CEO into a losing war with Florida leaders, had nothing to say Friday when the governor pulled the plug on Disney’s sweetheart deal with the state. To most people’s surprise, the company that couldn’t keep its mouth shut on the state’s popular parental rights in education bill couldn’t find the words to respond to the GOP’s elimination of their autonomous district (after the Magic Kingdom tried to sprinkle fairy dust on public policy). “The entertainment giant has not commented publicly on the proposal to dissolve its government,” reporters point out — a dramatic shift from the outspokenness that got them into this mess. Has Disney learned its lesson? Don’t count on it.

The controversy that had everyone’s eyes glued to Florida isn’t over. While the chattering heads at Disney may be quiet now, the woke will regroup. And when they do, they’ll face a much more formidable foe: a conservative movement that’s emboldened, empowered, and riding an unprecedented grassroots wave. At the helm are leaders like Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who never blinked at taking on the second largest employer in the state. “[Disney] demagogued the bill. They lied about it… [But we] weren’t going to let that deter us,” he said at the bill signing that stripped Chapek of the company’s special tax, zoning, and self-governing status.

It was a turning point for Republicans in the state, who just this past year had fought to exempt Disney from other burdensome regulations in the state. Those, too, were overturned on Friday in a separate proposal that DeSantis signed, making Chapek subject to the state’s new Big Tech censorship rules. The carve out was part of the GOP’s effort to keep the Disney+ streaming service from being “caught up” in more oversight.

Friday, DeSantis called that special treatment a “mistake.” “The legislature has rectified that… and they have repealed the Disney exemption to our Big Tech bill. That’s important,” he argued, later pointing to all of the leaked videos where producers brag about “queering” content to indoctrinate children. “They’re talking about their intentional agenda to inject sexuality in the programming that’s provided to our youngest kids — kids of my age: five, four, and two… That is just fundamentally wrong.”

Add that to the Stop Woke anti-CRT bill that DeSantis also signed Friday, and it was a bad day to be Bob Chapek. Not only will his company have to stop its “white privilege checklists” for employees under that new law, but with the dissolvement of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney is about to feel the pain that its over-the-top politicking has wrought. According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, Disney’s 55-year-old deal with state lawmakers had been saving it “tens of millions of dollars a year.” But if you’re “a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re going to marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state? We view that as a provocation, and we are going to fight back,” DeSantis insisted.

The Journal’s editors, like so many watching this heavyweight battle unfold, believe there’s “a warning in here to other companies.” It’s the same warning that the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate extremists should have heeded before they bet the farm on the woke wars. “If they try to impose their cultural values, they risk losing Republican allies on the policy issues that matter most to their bottom lines, such as regulation, trade, taxation, antitrust and labor law… The Disney lesson for CEOs is to stay out of these divisive cultural fights. The lesson for political partisans in the workplace is that their bosses run the office, but they don’t run the country.”

And the party who is on the verge of running the country has a limited supply of patience for their former friends in Big Business, who seem to think they can bash conservatives for their social policy and still enjoy the benefits of the GOP’s tax and free-market favor. Those days, as DeSantis should have made clear to everyone, are over.

“These private businesses ought to mind to their own business and get out of picking up the agenda for the woke Left,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told me on “Washington Watch.” It shouldn’t matter that a handful of employees signed petitions or letters or threatened to walk out, he argued. “They should tell them, ‘If you want to walk out for that, knock yourself out. Walk on out.’ They should do the things that they’re supposed to do to create prosperity and wealth. That’s the mission set. And when they don’t, those of us who have conservative beliefs should demand that they begin to change their ways.”

There was a day, not that long ago, when political conservatives and corporate America walked a common path. During my near-decade in office, I consistently had the highest rating with the premiere business organization, the Louisiana Business and Industry (LABI). But times have changed. Too many corporate CEOs are being held hostage by loud groups — inside and out — who are demanding that companies use their influence in the Left’s culture wars. Whether it’s a result of a Stockholm-type syndrome or an act of their own free will, these CEOs are about to get the shocked back into reality. Shareholders invest for one reason: profits. When corporate profits decline, expect the tolerance of investors for this nonsense to slide downward as well.

Originally published here.


Taxing Their Patience: GOP Fed up with Corporate Wokeism

If you gave 1,000 American voters three tries to guess the top policy proposal of the Republican party, not one would answer “more taxes,” but many might associate the GOP with “lower taxes,” or “pro-business” policy. It might surprise them that a new document released by the Business Roundtable calls for more taxes, practically the opposite of its stated goal, to “promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans.” The tax they propose, “a price on carbon,” is basically a tax on living, moving, and especially producing. The “tone deaf” proposal is “the last thing we need,” noted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), “harmful to working families… already struggling from inflation [and] high gas prices.”

The Business Roundtable’s Leftist climate tax proposal is just the latest incident in the ongoing divorce of mega-corporations and the Republican party. “The [U.S.] Chamber [of Commerce] left the [Republican] party a long time ago,” summarized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), noting it endorsed more Democrats than Republicans in the 2020 election. The problem is “woke corporate CEOs,” diagnosed Scalise, “embracing the Left’s social policy,” even to the point of pressuring “corporations to go against the very things those corporations do.” As just one example, “they’re trying to get the energy companies to be anti-energy.”

Like most of the Leftist ideas, the businesses pushing for higher taxes are the “super large corporations, not your mom-and-pop small businesses,” Scalise explained to me on Washington Watch. Small- and medium-sized businesses create more jobs and generate more productivity. “They don’t want higher tax rates at all because they’re barely struggling to get by. They can’t find workers. They’re competing against the federal government, who’s paying people not to work. They’ve got a mountain of new regulations coming at them,” said Scalise. “If a woke CEO wants to crush his smaller competition… no better way to do it than [with] mountains of regulations…. That’s not what I’m about. I’m about opportunity for everybody.”

As the Woke Disney Corporation is discovering in Florida, big business needs Republicans more than Republicans need big business. Now that Republicans are fed up with corporations constantly poking them in the eye, we’re fast approaching the day when corporations have to beg for tax favors from Elizabeth Warren and other Leftists. And they’ll discover “they hate all of those, big corporations as well as small businesses,” Scalise predicted. “The far Left hates every industry… the energy industry, the banks — you name the industry, they’re going after them.”

Public polling bears this out. Americans’ satisfaction with the “size and influence of major corporations” fell 15 points from 2020 to 2021, down from 41 percent to 26 percent. Among Democrats, it barely budged because it had already hit the floor (from 25 percent to 24 percent), but among Republicans, it cratered (from 57 percent to 31 percent). Basically, Democrats still don’t like big business, and now neither do Republicans. Big business has orchestrated its own, very public, character assassination by, as even the Wall Street Journal put it, “aggressively antagonizing the very Americans it has long relied on to protect it from government control.”

Republicans and conservatives stand for free markets and economic opportunity because we believe markets work better with fewer taxes and less regulation. But it turns out big business — the corporate empires who subsist on the government’s corporate welfare — no longer shares those values, nor the social values of most Americans. They’re too busy squandering their brands and frittering away their social credibility as they push the political agenda of the radical Left. “The Republican Party is still the party of the small business person and competitive free markets,” said Liberty University School of Business Dean Dave Brat, “but we’re turning against the oligarchs.”

Originally published here.


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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