The Take: DeSantis vs. Mickey is a lose-lose for progressives

On the crafts and clothing site Etsy, you can now show your disdain for Florida Gov. and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis with a button embroidered with the phrase “Fuck DeSantis” in the signature Disney font. And all at the low price of $6.79!

Below the denigrating phrase is a picture of Mickey Mouse, adorned in a loose polo t-shirt, red high-tops and his signature blue bottoms. He salutes the viewer while reclining in a beach chair, with a sun hat and a can of Bud Light, its metallic blue glowing in the Florida sun.

What I find both fascinating and distressing about this image is how bizarre the framing is: It pits the new face of the right-wing’s endless grievance campaign against two multinational conglomerates with patterns of worker abuse and long histories of playing both sides of the aisle for political gain.

Both teams are playing a game where nobody truly “wins,” yet it seems well-meaning liberals have decided to throw their hat in with massive, private institutions who are wildly indifferent to the dire stakes of political brinkmanship — outside of how it will impact their shareholders and perceptions among consumers.

It’s all deeply cynical, but it's something that speaks to a broader, more elusive problem. While much has been made about the erosion of democratic norms over the past decade, there has been less urgency about the structures and social formations (unions, community organizations, consumer advocacy groups, etc.) that once represented people’s material interests. As these spaces have decapitated — alongside a broader sense of isolation and loneliness — we’ve turned the game of power into a fan club, wherein ordinary people watch from the sidelines as elected officials and corporate entities compete (or collude) in the public square for supremacy.

The problem is that there’s nobody here to root for, but viewing the conflict between Ron DeSantis and Disney simulates the idea that politics — that is the resolution of opposing groups and their goals — is occurring. But instead of some form of productive conclusion, we are left with a false sense of catharsis.

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Jamie Larson