Can Ron DeSantis ride an anti-business message to the White House?


A major war between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and The Walt Disney Company has been in a stalemate for months.

The governor, angered by Disney’s expressed opposition to the laws he supports, launched a ferocious attack on the company despite Disney’s large footprint in his state. supported and later signed into law a plan to cancel the special district that governs the facilities of the there is.

Nonetheless, Disney had a tough year. The downward trend in the company’s share price that began in late 2021 has continued. In November, the company abruptly announced that it was replacing its (relatively new) CEO with a well-established predecessor.

However, as with any conflict, just because a battle goes unresolved does not mean it was without damage. Disney paid the price of public opposition to Florida law, including becoming the focus of generalized right-wing outrage against corporate efforts to acknowledge social inequality. Fox News, for example, said he mentioned Disney at least 2,900 times in the last 12 months and published more than 3,200 of his online articles that mentioned the company in the same period.

DeSantis emerged mostly unharmed. He was easily re-elected despite attacking his state’s main employer over a highly controversial bill he defended, albeit an obvious one to seek the White House in 2024. An important step in his plans that has yet to be announced. As Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green suggests, DeSantis sees a possible path to Washington: continuing to scapegoat corporate America as an instrument of the liberal left.

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Green notes that, like many of the other positions DeSantis has argued, his use of government power to respond to the efforts of private corporations is new. In a book written just before he did, DeSantis denounced President Barack Obama as a “movement.”[ing] It is a mobile review board for the business decisions of many large corporations, calling it part of the president’s habit of “bullying … private industry.”

But at the time, Republicans were still focused on things like working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to roll back taxes and regulations in anticipation of economic growth. Corporations were big donors to the Republican Party, and in return the Republican Party was an advocate of the no-interference approach.

By 2011, however, the enthusiasm of the Republican base for business had waned. Before 2000, at least one-third of his Republicans said he had “great” trust in major corporations in the U.S. when asked as part of a general public survey conducted every two years. reported consistently. However, it declined in the first few years of 2008 and surged around the time of the 2008 economic crisis.

The Republican Party’s view of business has recovered, but in 2021 it has collapsed again.

why? Green notes that in the summer of 2020, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota, many companies have voiced their support for the new Black Lives Matter movement. Green points to Gallup data showing that in the months after Floyd’s death, opposition to big business influence has changed from his one-third of Republicans to his two-thirds of the party. I’m here.

Issues of race, gender and sexuality, in particular, are inseparable from DeSantis’ focus on big business. As you’ll recall, Disney was inspired by the company’s opposition to a governor-backed law restricting discussion of homosexuality in schools. This was a bill called “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, and the bill declared by a spokesperson for DeSantis was opposed by “groomers”.

BLM protested in the summer of 2020, and the subsequent presidential campaign elevated race as a focus of the political right. Much of the first half of 2021 was spent concentrating on the alleged threat of “critical racial theory,” a subject DeSantis also targeted. Rights’ focus then expanded to issues of sexuality and gender identity, and DeSantis was there too.

Green contrasts the governor’s 2011 rhetoric with his late 2021 speech.

“If you’re trying to use your power as a company to advance an ideology,” DeSantis said. ”

A direct description of the point. DeSantis understands Republicans’ frustration with efforts to address racial, gender, and LGBTQ inequality, and is deploying state power to try to stop them. But he also knows the government’s influence on the larger cultural struggle is limited. However, governments often set rules for businesses. So, under the broad and nebulous umbrella of fighting ‘awakening’, DeSantis is also in business.

Companies never want to be the target of public condemnation and are soft targets. And Mr. Green said Mr. DeSantis said he was still governor and that Republicans told Mr. Green that Mr. DeSantis’ donors were “financial people who don’t like the cultural direction America is heading in.” , pointing out that we’ve never seen his funding undermined by a turn. of. “

What is less clear, however, is how effective this claim is outside his party.

In April 2021, Gallup asked Americans whether the actions of companies influence their willingness to do business with them. Polls show that most Americans say a company’s environmental efforts and efforts to promote diversity are at least fairly important in their purchasing decisions.More than a third of Americans, Democrats More than half of our employees say their commitment to diversity is very important. (So ​​did a fifth of Republicans.)

It’s not that Americans are shedding tears about what American companies are doing. A Pew Research Center poll conducted at the time of his BLM campaign in 2020 found that most Democrats and Republicans believed that public statements about race were a function of public pressure rather than a genuine concern. I understand that you think it is.

But the fact that these companies responded to public pressure shows that there was enough pressure to respond. For example, Disney’s opposition to DeSantis’ bill came only after the company’s employees began inciting them to take the company’s position.

Part of this change is that American business leaders are becoming more culturally liberal than they used to be. There are many reasons for this. The left leanings of college-educated Americans, the growing importance of cultural issues in society, and the political leanings of the young workers currently working in our businesses. In most industries, political donations moved more to the left between 2016 and his 2020, but most industries still gave more to Republicans (circle above center line below ).

In other words, in recent years corporate America has actually moved somewhat away from the Republican Party in both its institutional and cultural formulations. But part of the shift to the left reflects demand from consumers, if not voters.

Even with DeSantis running for president and focusing on corporate America, a leftist conspiracy bent on emasculating America’s right wing (as speculated by people like Elon Musk) It will become clear that it is not a troupe. Instead, he may now expose the relative political impotence of corporations, the latest in a series of once-feared institutions to be newly designated as Potemkin’s enemies.

It’s unclear, however, whether that strategy will work beyond the Republican primary.

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