Democrats have a line that they’ve liked to use a lot lately, or at least, the far left has: Corporations aren’t people. They’ve invented this slogan as a way to limit the rights of corporations with which they disagree politically, because if it were carried to its logical extreme, then it would result in the breakdown of the whole private enterprise system. You see, if corporations had literally none of the rights of private individuals, then you couldn’t sign contracts with them.

Think about both the presumption and the implication of that concept. Other than corporations or individuals, with whom do you sign contracts? The answer is: Nobody. Now, you might respond with “nonprofits” or “churches” or “schools.” That’s a fine and dandy theory, but guess what? They’re all incorporated. In fact, we have a whole section of law that deals with nonprofit corporations. We just usually shorten it, conversationally, to “nonprofits.” Keep that in mind any time you hear politicians saying that corporations shouldn’t be treated as people: It not only would undermine our entire economic system but also could bar corporations of all types from engaging in political debate, because they would no longer enjoy the same rights to freedom of speech as individuals, either. So, it’s partisan hyperbole designed to win votes, not a real solution.

That’s worth remembering in light of the recent brouhaha over the new law in Florida limiting what public schools can or cannot teach about sexuality. That debate has drawn national attention, and there are lessons to be drawn from it for us here. There’s been plenty of partisan overreaction to this issue on both sides, beginning with the law itself, a sweeping statewide mandate that should never have been passed. It’s an example of Republicans embracing a big-government mandate to impose their vision on local governments for political purposes, and one that shows they don’t really believe in small government at all.

Rather than enacting a new statewide law about the education curriculum, Republicans would have been wiser to let local school districts make their own decisions and allow families to do the same by expanding school choice. Any time either political party gets upset about what’s happening in public schools, there’s an easy solution: expanding parental involvement while expanding school choice. If Republicans had taken that position in Florida, it could have solved the problem and kept our kids out of the culture wars rather than dragging them in. It would also have been logical and ideologically consistent. Instead, Florida Republicans used state government to attack both local control and freedom of speech.

So, the predictable reaction of Florida Republicans who are upset at the Walt Disney Corp. for opposing their new law was, of course, to go after the Walt Disney Corp. Now, if you think that the government retaliating against a private corporation for its political speech is a violation of the First Amendment, well, you’re correct. That’s absolutely a violation of the First Amendment that neither side should ever engage in, and yet not only do they both do it all the time, but they also get infuriated whenever the other side does it.

Since Disney publicly protested the new law, Florida Republicans decided to strip Disney of the special privileges they enjoyed. Many years ago, Florida gave Disney both tax breaks and the right to govern themselves as a town, even though they were a corporation. That’s a completely ridiculous situation that Florida should never have agreed to, but they did, and so now it’s there – or at least, it was there.

The Republican-led Florida Legislature just repealed Disney’s special privileges. Now, normally, one would think that Democrats would be thrilled by this: Republicans agreeing to limit the rights of a corporation. Fantastic, right? Nope, they opposed it because Disney supported their side on the education bill.

That’s right, Democrats are all in favor of rights for corporations – but only if they support their political positions. That’s just as hypocritical as Florida Republicans punishing Disney for their views, even if it isn’t unconstitutional. The debate in Florida shows what happens when either party leans into the culture wars for political purposes: While it might excite your base, it keeps any real governing from occurring and exposes blatant hypocrisy. That’s something that we the voters have the power to immediately halt in its tracks, whether it’s coming from the right or the left, but only if we are actually on the lookout for it.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
Twitter: @jimfossel

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