Which brings us to the second answer, the Ron DeSantis solution, manifest in the Florida governor’s recent war with Disney. You tell corporations that if they decide (or find themselves internally pressured) to become active on the liberal side of the culture wars, they may find their special deals and corporate carve-outs suddenly threatened or revoked.
From one perspective, this is no more scalable than the Musk solution, because a move as direct as DeSantis’s is quite possibly unconstitutional, an assault on corporate free-speech rights. And the Florida governor himself may expect to have his move swatted down in the courts, to reap political benefits without having to actually deal with the fallout of what, frankly, seems like a pretty poorly thought-out policy shift.
But there is a conservative case for the principle of what he’s doing — a case that while the government can’t single you out for special disfavor for your political speech, what is being withdrawn in Disney’s case is special favor, linked to the bipartisan and indeed above-partisanship position that the House of Mouse has long enjoyed in Florida.
Interestingly, this argument feels like a reworking, from the cultural right, of Elizabeth Warren’s argument from a decade back. Not with the same policy conclusion, obviously, but with a similar premise. She argued that nobody builds a business alone, and now conservatives are embracing a variation of that case — not to justify progressive taxation, but to suggest that if your business or institution accepts special government favors, then the public becomes a stakeholder in your success, and it has the right to withdraw that special treatment if you then become a partisan or ideological actor.
“Almost every institution the left controls and has weaponized in the culture wars,” the conservative writer and editor Ben Domenech argued this week, “was created by and depends upon special, favorable treatment — even funding — from all Americans.”
This is true of public entities, public schools and universities, the locus of so much controversy right now, but it’s also true of the internet behemoths, beneficiaries of a regulatory system that largely immunized them from content responsibility (via the famous Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act). Or the Wall Street firms bailed out in 2008. Or the sports leagues that rely on antitrust exemptions and stadium subsidies. Or Disney — because, as Domenech writes, “it’s only by the generosity of the American people” that Disney has been successful in its decades of lobbying to extend copyright protections.
All of these institutions enjoy First Amendment protections from being discriminated against, this line of argument suggests. But forms of discrimination that work in their favor — meaning all their privileges, immunities and tax breaks — are political fair game if they enter the culture-war arena.
Source by www.nytimes.com