The Trojan Horse
by Ron Rabatsky
During the past three decades many of us had no idea there was a "war" ongoing against the middle class. We perceived the peculiar machinations of the Bush administration, for instance, and accusations of corruption as more of the same political rhetoric between the parties that had been continuing for decades. We chose to ignore it. And we did it at our own peril.
There was a growing demand for explanations from people who generally understood the “bankster” problem, but did not see how it could be connected to our myriad of other problems. How was it that a democratic system that had worked – sometimes better, sometimes worse – for more than 200 years could just break down completely into “entirely partisan,” “no compromise” political warfare.
There has been a growing amount of recognition that our country is being sold out to the corporatocracy, and corporations are just not rising to meet their responsibilities as Americans—they are the job creators. But because people don't have jobs, they are not out spending money on goods and services. Because the market for goods and services is so soft, the corporations that market them are not spending money on expansion and hiring. Because they are not hiring and expanding as they would ordinarily do when they have this kind of cash position, there are not enough people with jobs to buy enough goods and services to warrant expansion and hiring...Now they could if they wanted take advantage of soft real estate prices, low interest rates, and ample labor at comparatively low wages and try new ventures, try new ideas. But then the economy might recover and Obama would get credit for it. That would not be acceptable to the 1% who don't want to give up the gains they made (at our expense) during the Bush administration years, or those who apparently believe for who knows what reason, that someday they will be one of the 1% themselves.
And this is where ALEC enters the picture — the American Legislative Exchange Council, a shadowy, quasi-legislative body that has by its very nature contributed to the untenable deficits, debt, dysfunction, and corruption we face as a nation today.
When you see a number of different state legislatures voting on the same unpopular, costly, and counterproductive legislation all at the same time, you’ve got to wonder how this can be a coincidence. Voter Suppression laws, for example, have been passed by corporate legislatures across the country to resolve the "problem" of minorities and college students voting (more about this later), at a high cost to the taxpayers of cash-strapped states with no purpose other than to create a desired electoral outcome. This column is going to show you how this is not a coincidence, but part of a collusion of interests and influence that has been purchased and cultivated with the assistance of some 2000 state legislators, 100 members of the U.S. Congress, and hundreds of America’s most powerful corporations.
Let's take a look at a history of ALEC as they would like us to see them, taken from their website:
“More than 30 years ago, a small group of state legislators and conservative policy advocates met in Chicago to implement a vision: a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty. Their vision and initiative resulted in the creation of a voluntary membership association for people who believed that government closest to the people was fundamentally more effective, more just, and a better guarantor of freedom than the distant, bloated federal government in Washington, D.C.
"At that meeting, in September 1973, state legislators, including then Illinois State Rep. Henry Hyde, conservative activist Paul Weyrich, and Lou Barnett, a veteran of then Gov. Ronald Reagan's 1968 presidential campaign, together with a handful of others launched the American Legislative Exchange Council. Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were: Robert Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, John Engler of Michigan; Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio: all of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress. Congressional members who were active during this same period included Senators John Buckley of New York and Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and Congressmen Phil Crane of Illinois and Jack Kemp of New York.”
Today ALEC boasts some 100 alumni in the U.S. Congress. (An active member becomes an "alumnus" when entering congress.) But Congress is not where their strength lies; that would be in the state legislatures, where they boast as many as 2000 legislators as active members of ALEC. But because so much of the national narrative is focused on stagnation in Congress these days, please take a look at the Members of the US House and the US Senate ALEC who are "alumni" of ALEC.
“Because of the success of ALEC legislative leaders in the states, their careers are expanding beyond state legislatures. As a result, ALEC has developed the Federal Relations program for its alumni members.
"The focus of the Federal Relations program is to build a productive bipartisan working relationship among current and former ALEC members at all levels of government. Bringing state legislative leaders into contact with their congressional counterparts is the cornerstone of the Federal Relations program. It enables ALEC members, both state and federal, to secure and protect a sound and balanced government. Through this relationship, ALEC provides its (100) members with information and testimonial support from the states on pressing policy matters.”
Next week we will take a look at where ALEC gets its funds, and how they work to produce “model legislation” for passage in a particular state – or states – or on a Federal level. In the mean time, I encourage you to do your own research, and post comments below. We want this series to be an exploration with many voices. If you uncover something that the world needs to know, please sign up to become one of our writers, researchers, or copy editors. Let's make it our civic duty to research and expose this secretive shadow branch of government.
Note: A “shadow” government is correct above. ALEC serves that function, much as in England where they have a shadow government. But don’t include this note in the article, as depending on when the political situation works out in England we’ll be writing of ALEC’s involvement in the possible downfall of the Cameron government.
ALEC quotes regarding their history quoted from:
ALEC’s list of their alumni in the U.S. Congress are copied from:
Are you represented in this branch of government?
Are you represented in this branch of government?