Persuading government to change a particular policy is not a swift process because there are constraints associated with the frequency of elections and the amount of money necessary to mount a sustained campaign to foster support from the people to elect representatives that can effect government change. Within one year, extremist conservatives at the state and federal level have wreaked havoc on voting rights, immigration laws, and social safety nets that will endure at least until the next election, and unfortunately, all Americans are stuck with the harsh changes the conservatives have wrought. Nearly all of the voter suppression laws and anti-immigration frenzy originated from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Public Safety and Elections task force through template legislation that dealt with non-economic issues, and after pressure from activists, ALEC announced that it would be eliminating the task force to “reinvest these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.”
Activists played a major role in convincing ALEC to abandon the task force that was the power behind voter suppression laws, stand your ground laws, and anti-immigration measures, and they were successful because they pressured ALEC’s corporate sponsors to withdraw funding, and as this column noted last week, the only way to change non-elected organizations is through economic pressure. The announcement yesterday that ALEC will no longer focus on controversial non-economic agendas was incredibly good news and a victory for the American people, but it certainly does not signal an immediate end to the lasting damage from laws ALEC already wrote, and Republicans enacted. ALEC’s announcement is little comfort to Americans who are victims of harsh voter ID laws, dangerous stand your ground laws, and discriminatory anti-immigration policies, and like a murderer who says they stopped killing, there is still a dead human being.
ALEC still has task forces dealing with non-economic issues that portend more drastic laws from their Republican sycophants and they will continue feeling pressure from activist groups on subjects such as education, prisons, environment, and healthcare until they stop interfering with democracy. There is no reason to expect ALEC to abandon anything voluntarily, and they certainly cannot be trusted to focus on economic issues exclusively because there is still a world of serious damage they are intent on causing states and communities with privatization scams and attempts to eliminate environmental protections to enrich their donors.
However, for now, there is cause for celebration and an indication that the people wield more power than corporations if they are driven, well-informed, and organized. Common Cause called ALEC’s announcement a big win because they abandoned, under pressure, “the most controversial part of its agenda” that was a triumph for the American public, but Color Of Change, a group behind anti-ALEC petition drives will not cease their pressure to hold ALEC and their corporate donors responsible for the “bad deeds already done,” and called the announcement a PR stunt to divert attention away from their other dangerous agendas. Color of Change’s Executive Director Rashad Robinson said that just because ALEC announced they were “stopping non-economic work does not provide justice to millions of people whose lives are impacted by these dangerous laws, and now that ALEC’s corporate members are aware of their policies, what will they do about it?” What they do is dependent on the sustained pressure from activists and consumers alike because without economic penalties, corporations or ALEC will not make one move to correct their atrocious activities to subvert democracy.
The only method of consequence to keep pressure on ALEC’s corporate members is educating the public about the dangers of an organization bent on changing America into a plutocracy. One dedicated group that has been on ALEC’s case is Alec Exposed and their work documenting the dangerous agenda and subsequent Republican laws in states is comprehensive and unrelenting in its all-inclusive coverage of ALEC’s template legislation so the public can understand the “depth and breadth of how big corporations are changing the legal rules and undermining democracy across the nation.” Color of Change is another organization that “enables our members to speak in unison, with an amplified political voice, and keeps them informed about the most pressing issues.” Their powerful pledge is, “we will do all we can to make sure all Americans are represented, served, and protected – regardless of race or class,” and it makes them natural enemies of groups like ALEC and the Republican Party.
ALEC is an enemy of the people and despite their announcement they have abandoned their Public Safety and Elections task force, they remain an impediment to democracy and progress for all Americans. They have created template legislation for nearly every aspect of American life from healthcare to education to environmental protections and until at least ten major corporations severed ties after exposure and pressure from activist groups, they were on schedule to change American government into a corporate puppet and that is still their prime directive. Perusing ALEC’s mission statement and the goals of the various task forces controlling Republican legislation, one is hard-pressed to find one aspect of the agendas that benefit the American people.
ALEC worked behind the scenes in secret for well over 40 years, and without the dedication of concerned activists and groups committed to exposing their fascist agenda, they would still be lurking and subverting democracy. Now that the people know they have power to inflict serious damage on ALEC, they will proceed with new-found determination to end their reign of terror. The brief campaign that cost ALEC ten corporate sponsors was mild compared to the concerted effort to end their sovereignty over Republican-controlled states that is on the horizon, and before it is finished, ALEC’s executive director will know what a true “coordinated intimidation campaign” is and it will come from activists who are organized, committed, and dedicated to preserving democracy. The question still remains; what are the corporations that supported ALEC’s agenda going to do about the damage they supported? They had better make the right decision because they are being watched by powerful activists who have a secret weapon; the American people.