Over the course of the last year the workings of the right-wing corporatist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has come out in the open. Much of the credit for this goes to ALEC Exposed, who started this effort last Summer, to pull back the curtain of the previously hidden efforts of ALEC. Here’s how the describe the issue:
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC’s own words, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?
Here are the faces of ALEC in Texas. Damage done, ALEC retreats (for now), Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues. Of course this makes no sense. Obviously less stringent gun laws and more stringent voting restrictions are a boon to corporations.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent Op-Ed from Katrina vanden Heuvel on ALEC.
In 1973, a small but powerful group of right-wing state legislators and activists met in Chicago. They gathered to form an organization for those who believe that government, in their words, ought to be limited and “closest to the people.” And since, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts and Mitt Romney, we know that corporations are, in fact, people, it makes sense that Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart and Koch Industries are among the funders of this secretive and influential group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, known by its sweet-sounding acronym ALEC.
For nearly forty years, ALEC has quietly and successfully pushed its extremist agenda in state assemblies across the country. As The Nation and the Center for Media Democracy exposed last summer — work recently cited by The New York Times’ Paul Krugman — ALEC literally writes state laws by providing fully drafted model legislation to more than 2,000 state legislators. This corporate leviathan backed the recent national conservative push to further enrich the one percent while rolling back workers’ rights, inventing new ways to harass and debase women and suppressing the vote. They also wrote the so-called “Stand Your Ground” gun bills that now blight some 20 states across the country and are implicated in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
While conservatives are skilled puppeteers, progressives are great at mobilizing people and channeling energy for the big fights, whether it’s putting the crisis of income inequality at center stage, or even electing a progressive president. But ALEC’s astonishing influence exposes the progressive Achilles’ heel: a lack of a similarly entrenched, nationwide infrastructure of state and local policymakers and advocates that can create and support lasting change.
Sure, well-coordinated progressive responses throughout the country, thus far, have prevented more extensive damage to our democracy. Mississippi, for instance, soundly defeated a ballot initiative to legalize “fetus personhood.” Maine saved same-day voter registration at the ballot box. The people of Wisconsin have fought back against a relentless right-wing attack on workers’ rights and forced Governor Scott Walker into a recall election.
But playing defense isn’t enough. The progressive movement needs to build a bench that can play offense at the grassroots, local, state and national levels, and one that is positioned to pull every lever of power in our multi-layered political system. Without that, for every big union busting bill defeated, or every progressive president elected, there still will be hundreds of right-wing initiatives percolating through the political system, eroding our rights and unraveling our hard-earned progress.
It’s unlikely this is ALEC actually trying to decrease it’s influence any way. Just an attempt to try and get back behind the curtain.
[UPDATE]: Today’s announcement just a PR stunt.