Donald Trump didn’t win the White House based solely on his policies.
Sure, conservatives rallied around Trump’s border wall agenda, tax cuts and pro-Israel stance. Many also cheered his presence in the political arena, an orange bull in the Beltway China shop.
Trump donned his armor, forged in both reality show skirmishes and real estate wars, and plunged into the Culture Wars. His rhetoric alone pummeled anyone demanding more genteel conversations.
He also railed against protesters tearing down statues, a core part of recent Culture War skirmishes.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took some notes during Trump’s tenure, apparently. And he’s emerged with the first major win of the 2024 presidential campaign.
Bob Iger, who recently returned as @WaltDisneyCo‘s chief executive, said he feels “sorry” to see the entertainment giant getting dragged into a battle with #Florida lawmakers over a ban on sex and gender discussions in early elementary classrooms. https://t.co/f71OAaH9kl
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) December 1, 2022
The Republican leader challenged Hollywood’s biggest studio, Disney, from his Sunshine State perch. DeSantis couldn’t use the White House’s bully pulpit.
At least not yet.
He understood how a politically-charged Mouse House could impact not just La La Land but the culture at large.
And, make no mistake, Team Disney is invested in more than just its streaming service. The mega-studio, which owns “Star Wars,” Pixar, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and more, wants to change hearts and minds.
Even if its bottom line suffers as a result.
Chris Rufo releases inside videos of Disney execs saying they want 50% of their characters to fit their “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” … oh, and that evil Republicans want to kidnap gay people’s kids https://t.co/WvFmhSwZLx
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) March 30, 2022
We’ve seen in recent months evidence of Disney creatives flexing its brand to include woke gender mores into its storylines. That inclusive agenda yielded films like “Lightyear,” “Strange World” and “Willow,” content aimed at children featuring same-sex couples and other gender narratives some say aren’t age appropriate.
Disney didn’t stop there.
The company used its corporate might to battle DeSantis’ legislation to prevent young children from being exposed to complicated sexual material in schools. The media dubbed DeSantis’ legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, an erroneous label used across the news landscape sans apology.
Disney attacked the Parental Rights in Education bill through friendly media outlets. Former CEO Bob Chapek personally intervened, too.
Chapek said that he called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday morning, “to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families.”
Remember, this is an entertainment company, not a Democratic SuperPAC. Disney leaned into its new, self-appointed role, backed by woke employees eager to score points in the Culture Wars.
DeSantis could have backpedaled. Who wants to go toe to toe with the Mouse House, an integral part of Florida’s ecosystem and a beloved brand for generations?
He stayed his ground, defying both Disney and biased media outlets.
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DeSantis also approved legislation stripping Disney of its “special governing power,” dating back to 1967, earlier this year. The move hit Disney where it hurt … in the taxes.
DeSantis made his rationale for the move clear as crystal.
“Look, there’s policy disputes, and that’s fine … but when you’re trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat …this wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated. So in Florida, we take a very big stand against that.”
What happened next?
Chapek got ousted as Disney CEO on a Sunday night shuffle. His predecessor, Bob Iger, returned to his former position to battle the company’s sizable stock slump and faltering brand. The company’s latest animated film, “Strange World,” bombed in spectacular fashion.
And, days after rejoining the company, Iger declared a ceasefire in the Culture Wars he helped inflame.
Here’s what Iger told his employees during a Townhall Q&A earlier this week.
“Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not. It can be distracting, and it can have a negative impact on the company. And to the extent that I can work to kind of quiet things down, I’m going to do that.”
A subsequent question touched on the Parental Rights in Education law, letting Iger pivot on an issue his company worked so hard to engage.
“When you tell stories, there’s a delicate balance. You’re talking to an audience, but it’s also important to listen to an audience. It’s important to have respect for the people you are serving, that you are trying to reach and not have disdain from.”
DeSantis won re-election in Florida last month by a wide margin, drawing support from Democratic strongholds in the process. He hasn’t formally announced a presidential run, but political observers would be shocked if he stood down for the 2024 campaign.
He may be the only GOP contender strong enough to take on Trump. And, given his unofficial victory in the Disney wars, he’s off to a flying start.