Two events occurred last week that were so monumental, so significant, so life-altering, that they were able to distract Americans from the fact that there is a war going on in Europe. What were these two earth-shattering events that distracted the country from all-out war? Disney lost its right to self-governance in Florida, and Elon Musk bought Twitter. Honestly, neither of these events should be significant enough to overtake the headlines from Ukraine and Russia, but it seems that Americans have grown bored of talking about the war at this stage, and are looking for other topics to occupy their time.
These two news events have one major commonality: They were largely cheered by the Right and condemned by the Left. And the fact that these reactions happened have now sealed the new normal for political sides in America. It was not that long ago that Democrats and Liberals absolutely hated big business, regardless of what they stood for, and at the same time, Republicans and Conservatives stood firmly against governments intervening in the affairs of private companies. These are no longer the case.
Let’s start with Disney. In the 1960s, Disney was granted a sort of autonomy over the land that it owned in Central Florida. They control the police force, fire department, electricity, water, and roads. This autonomy was especially advantageous in the area of taxes. Having control over that land exempted Disney from certain taxes, and was something that both Democrat and Republican governors understood as important for Florida’s relationship with the company. Additionally, it never really hurt either party, as Disney contributed heavily to both parties in the state. But when Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that those campaign donations will stop in light of a controversial law passed in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would be putting an end to Disney’s long-standing autonomy over its properties in Florida.
Lines were immediately drawn. Liberals sided with the megacorporation, Disney, while Conservatives aligned with the government looking to remove rights granted to a private company. This twist may be indicative of a change wherein Conservatives may start to embrace big government and Liberals align with corporations. But of course, this is not true, because then we come to Elon Musk and Twitter.
Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter was successful, which again caused an immediate and obvious line draw between ideologies. Liberals turned to the Securities and Exchange Commission to step in and somehow stop the sale, and politicians monologued about how it’s now time for government intervention in social media, while Conservatives sided with Musk, and pointed out how corporations can do whatever they want as long as they adhere to the rules of free speech.
So what did this teach us about our nation and civil discourse? It tells us that principles are completely irrelevant anymore. It teaches us that as long as our side is winning, we must do what needs to be done to further our agenda. If that means that Conservatives must side with bigger government or that Liberals must side with one of the largest corporations on the planet, that is a small price to pay for winning. And as a member of a generation that is often criticized for being brought up on participation trophies, it is extremely funny how much we are willing to compromise our principles in order to win.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.