I’m not sure why Jared Polis sent his tweet taking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to task for his strong-arming of Mickey Mouse and the rest of the Disney gang after they criticized DeSantis’ benighted, wink-to-homophobes, Don’t Say Gay legislation. Let’s just be happy he did.
And that’s not to mention — although Polis made sure he included it — DeSantis’ unrelated war with Twitter, which apparently involves the Twitter board trying to block Elon “Anything Goes, Especially on Twitter” Musk from taking the company private.
When it comes to Polis, I can think of at least a few reasons why he thought to intervene.
It could be, as rumors continue to circulate, that Polis really does see himself as someday running for president and wants to be out in front in criticizing DeSantis, who is clearly running for president, offering himself as a slightly more stable version of Donald Trump. If you’ll recall, two Colorado Democrats — John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet — both briefly ran for president in the last go-round.
It could be that as the first openly gay person elected governor, Polis felt the need, or maybe even the responsibility, to address DeSantis’ law punishing Disney for relying on, you know, First Amendment protections in criticizing anti-LGBTQ legislation.
It could be that libertarian, pro-business Polis actually cares whether formerly corporate-friendly Republicans are now only friendly to un-woke corporations.
Or it could just be that it’s simply too irresistible to lampoon DeSantis, who is in direct competition with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to show which governor could best legislate his way into the inevitable (but maybe not anytime soon) post-Trump, Make America Insane Again sweepstakes.
In case you missed the news, here’s Polis’ tweet:
“Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector are driving businesses away. In CO, we don’t meddle in affairs of companies like @Disney or @Twitter. Hey @Disney we’re ready for Mountain Disneyland and @twitter we’re ready for Twitter HQ2, whoever your owners are”
The tweet is interesting on so many levels.
Polis goes after DeSantis for being “authoritarian,” which is certainly the way that Democrats are hitting Republicans these days. Here’s Polis in an interview with Fox News Digital after his tweet:
Polis said that while DeSantis is “welcome to disagree” with any company, “when government starts threatening private companies with retribution based on their free speech, that takes us down the road towards authoritarianism.”
Polis, who thinks Democrats should spend more time on Fox and talking to people they don’t necessarily agree with — which, for Polis, would include not a few Colorado liberals — went on to accuse DeSantis of “cancel culture,” which is just about the nastiest thing, short of “grooming” kids, in the Republican vocabulary.
Polis didn’t just accuse DeSantis of being an authoritarian, but also a “socialist,” which must have given DeSantis heart palpitations. Nothing has made Republicans happier than Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist, running for president. Republicans had been calling Democrats socialists for 100 years, and then Bernie comes along to agree, at least in his case.
I assume Polis is using “socialist” both as a dig and as a nod to the GOP anti-wokeness campaign, which has devolved, at least in the Disney case, into telling a company how it should be running itself.
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And then, of course, Polis tells Disney and Twitter that both are welcome to do their business in Colorado, and however they see fit. Mile High Disney? Can you picture it? (Nah, me neither.)
Taking on Disney is quite a test in Florida. Disney has more than 80,000 employees in the state and operates as a strange self-governing district, which puts Disney in charge of most of the governing functions of a city. They gained this power many years ago from, of course, the Florida state legislature. It seems the Orlando property isn’t such a small world after all.
DeSantis has argued that ending Disney’s self-governance benefit would set a more level playing field for Florida businesses. And while that may be true, is there anyone who actually believes that’s what DeSantis is talking about? Would you be brave enough to raise your hand if you do?
In case you’re confused by all this and thought, as many of us (naively) did, that the gay-rights issue was mostly put to rest by virtue of Supreme Court decisions, state legislative work and, most of all, the startling turnaround in the polls, which now show something like 70% of Americans approving of gay marriage, it’s clear now that the issue is back, if in a slightly different form.
There was, of course, the infamous wedding-cake skirmish. But we couldn’t have figured on the emergence of the transgender issues — Which bathroom to use? Which sports team to play on? Which treatment options shouldn’t be included in the GOP’s oft-cited parental rights? This has become a serious Republican issue and a nod to the QAnon types who live to spread the bizarre conspiracy theory that high-ranking Democrats are involved in child-sex-trafficking rings that only Donald Trump can break up.
The Don’t Say Gay law, which is now being considered by as many as 13 Republican-controlled state legislatures, would ensure that K-3 students are not taught about sexual orientation or gender identity and would also allow parents to turn in teachers who, as they might have heard from the mouths of their 6-year-olds, could be crossing some sort of sexual line. Texas has its anti-abortion vigilantes and now Florida has its turn-in-your-teacher law, which would have flown in at least one Republic I can think of. That would be, of course, the late, unlamented German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany.
We’re already hearing from the right-wing fringes — or maybe they’re not fringes — that anyone who opposes the Don’t Say Gay laws clearly must favor the sexualizing and grooming of young children.
The most famous put down of this idea came from a young Michigan state senator, Mallory McMorrow, whose speech from a “straight mom” of a 1-year-old has gone viral. She had been accused by a Republican senator, by name, of supporting “grooming and sexualizing” children in a fundraising email.
And, yes, Don’t Say Gay fits neatly with the laws against teaching Critical Race Theory — an obscure subject that began being argued in law school classes in the ’70s, but which is not taught in any elementary schools of which I’m aware — which might as well just be called the Don’t Say Black (And Definitely Don’t Say Slavery) law.
To give you an idea of just how crazy this all is, Florida recently rejected a host of arithmetic books for not meeting their standards. The New York Times analyzed the proposed books and found apparent concerning examples, such as a picture of a, uh, Black kid saying, “To learn together, disagree respectfully.”
What could be more anti-American in the year 2022 than to make a serious call for respectful disagreement? Jared Polis settled for one semi-respectful — if quite funny — tweet. Which is apparently still legal in most states today, but who knows once Florida really gets to work?
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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