Ron DeSantis: Bully Supreme
By Jacob Hornberger, Libertarian Party candidate for president.
There are four important lessons to be learned from the fight between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company.
Lesson One: The first and foremost lesson is that Ron DeSantis is a bully — a big bully. In fact, he might well even surpass Donald Trump when it comes to the business of bullying.
When Disney announced its opposition to a DeSantis-endorsed law restricting the teaching of sexual-related matters to grade-school students, DeSantis could have played the role of statesman. He could have declared, “Disney has the fundamental, God-given right to express its views, even if I don’t agree with them, and I will fight to defend Disney’s right of freedom of speech.”
But Ron DeSantis is clearly no statesman. Instead, he is a Bully Supreme. Outraged over Disney’s opposition to the law, DeSantis embarked on a crusade of vicious retaliation. Even worse, he looked for ways to use the force of the state to punish Disney for having the audacity to express opposition to his legislation.
Why is this important? Because if Ron DeSantis is elected president, he isn’t going to be converted overnight into a statesman. He will be the same vicious bully that he is today. But with one big difference. He will have the IRS, the FTC, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DEA, Homeland Security, and other powerful federal agencies at his disposal to exact revenge against people who dare to oppose him and his anti-woke agenda.
And make no mistake about it: The bullying works. After DeSantis persuaded the Florida legislature to revoke the special tax and regulatory status that Disney has had for decades and appoint a government board with DeSantis cronies to oversee Disney’s operations, Disney expressed no opposition to the move. Disney is smart enough to know that in a battle against the powerful force of the state, Disney is going to lose, especially when the state is being run by a vicious bully.
In fact, I predict that Disney will never again openly dare to oppose that particular law or any other law that DeSantis is endorsing, ether as governor or president. Better to go into silent mode and limit the damage.
This is how American tyrants, at both the state and national level, cow the citizenry. They don’t need to put critics into jail, like their counterparts in China and Russia do. They just need to be able to threaten critics with the regulatory and taxation state. Businesses and people fall into line, just like they do in China and Russia.
Lesson Two: DeSantis provides perfect confirmation that our American ancestors were right to demand the enactment of the First Amendment. They understood that government power would inevitably attract people like DeSantis — people who would use the force of government to retaliate against their critics. That’s why they were not willing to rely simply on the Constitution itself to protect freedom of speech. They wanted an express restriction to protect themselves from these kind of people.
Lesson Three: Whenever a person or a business gets a dole or a special privilege from the government, a ruler like DeSantis can threaten to terminate or alter that dole or privilege as a way to retaliate against people or businesses that don’t toe the line. That is precisely why, for example, Hillsdale College in Michigan has long refused to accept state money. It chooses to remain totally independent of governmental control, threats, or bullying. Businesses or people who wish to remain independent of governmental bullying need to avoid going on the dole or accepting special privileges from the state.
Lesson Four: As long as the state controls the educational system (i.e., public schooling), there is no way to arrive at a satisfactory resolution of the myriad problems what arise within this socialist system. This is what DeSantis and his Republican ilk simply cannot understand. That’s why they mire themselves in political controversies over how to run their socialist educational system. They simply cannot see that in a free-market educational system, problems don’t become politicized and everyone gets to choose the educational vehicles they desire for their children. DeSantis’s devotion to educational socialism is just one more example of how Republicans criticize socialism while embracing socialism.
Finally, what’s fascinating about DeSantis’s extreme bullying of Disney is that he clearly is not satisfied with just altering the special tax and regulatory privilege that Disney has had for decades. The Bully Supreme has made it clear that he’s also now committed to altering Disney’s own internal entertainment messaging. In other words, Governor DeSantis is now making himself the king of Disney’s Magical Kingdom. So much for “free enterprise, private property, and limited government,” the popular and empty mantra that Republicans have long embraced.
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