The constant cry from the Republican Party, since the days of Reagan, has been for “smaller government.” This has always meant that government has to get out of the way of businesses and everything would be hunky-dory. Regulation of businesses by “government” has been over reach they say.
But apparently there are limits to this concept. This week Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida was so incensed by the Walt Disney Company’s expressed disagreement with his bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” law that he decided they needed to be “regulated.” DeSantis called a special session of the legislature and rammed through a bill eliminating Disney’s special self-governing status in the counties they occupy in the Orlando area.
In reality this is a publicity stunt. The law he signed yesterday does not take effect until 2023. It will most likely be struck down in court since it violates other laws, but that doesn’t really matter to DeSantis. If the law did go into effect it would cost the state nearly $500 million in annual revenue that it currently collects from the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for the land of Walt Disney World Resort. It would also raise taxes on households in the affected counties by about $2000 per year.
Why do something this stupid in an election year? Well, because it is an election year. DeSantis is running for reelection and this move is all about rallying his white supremacist, anti-gay support base. Taking a wider view, DeSantis is posturing for the national base of Trump followers so that he can run for president in 2024. Throwing Republican “principles” under the bus is business as usual for DeSantis if it gets him the “right” attention.
As far as self-destructive publicity stunts go, however, it is hard to top Governor Greg Abbott of Texas who blockaded trade on the Mexican border for a couple of weeks.
Abbott’ stunt was to try to dramatize the “ineffectiveness” of the Biden administration’s handling of the Southern Border. Various Republican mouthpieces including RNC chair Ronna McDaniel are expressing outrage that nearly a million apprehensions of illegal border crossings occurred in a few month period. Why Republicans complaining about an “invasion” at the border are finding fault with record-level apprehensions is an enduring mystery.
To make the “point,” Abbott decided to search every truck coming across the border at one selected crossing, ignoring the fact that they had already been screened by DHS. And found no drugs or illegal immigrants at all.
The thickness of the irony is hard to describe. Republicans are screaming because DHS actually did what it was supposed to do in apprehensions. Meanwhile Abbott caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in produce spoiled in idling trucks. The net loss of this publicity stunt was in the neighborhood of $4.2 billion.
And from the “not much of a surprise” department, Abbott is also up for reelection this year.
Both Abbott and DeSantis show that Republican principles of “taking care of business” will be cast out as quickly as yesterday’s trash to play for their statewide and national Trump base. Note: that “Trump base” always means short attention span, white supremacist, religious extremists—people who live in stark terror of anyone that has a different skin color, a liberal view of women’s rights, cares about the environment or even their fellow man.
Basically to Republicans, “government over reach” is a really bad thing and must be called out on every occasion—unless it is being done by a Republican Governor as a publicity stunt.
There are actually many more examples, (think Kristi Noem and Kay Ivey) but this article doesn’t need to go on all day to make the point.