By Contributor on August 04, 2014

By Rep. Chris Taylor

Newt Gingrich began his Friday morning address on the last day of the ALEC conference stating that, according to a recent Gallup poll, 79 percent of people believe that government is corrupt. All of the ALEC attendees around me nodded their heads. But I can think of no other organization in the United States that has done more to contribute to this belief. ALEC’s very existence depends on subverting democracy—undermining the actual people who are elected to make policy, and shutting the citizens who elect them out of the voting booth.

Mr. Gingrich went on to discuss the premise of his latest book, and laid out the struggle between, what he calls, “the pioneers of the future versus the prison guards of the past”. He referred to the ALEC members as those brave future warriors.

I looked around the room. The pioneers of the future seemed to skip this conference. The attendees had a bad case of PMS: Pale, Male and Stale. They looked and acted like the guardians of the past, in a desperate struggle to protect their current wealth and privilege by reverting to the past when corporations could do as corporations pleased.

Indeed, ALEC is the ultimate guardian of the past.

ALEC wants to go back to a time when people were excluded from participating in elections by replacing poll taxes with voter ID laws. As ALEC’s founding member stated in 1980 when speaking to conservative religious group, “I don’t want everyone to vote . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Energy and environmental policies are the biggest areas of ALEC’s current focus. Many model bills and resolutions opposing federal regulations over clean air and clean water were adopted at this conference.

ALEC supports unfettered fracking, but its members like Peabody Energy are planning a “political tsunami” over proposed EPA regulations to reduce carbon emissions from coal fired power plants. As Donna Nelson, the chairwoman of the Texas Public Utility Commission warned, people are going to die from heat stroke because of these regulations. To underscore the point, ALEC passed out hand held paper fans which read “EPA’s Air Conditioner—Coming 2015.” Wind and solar are ALEC’s chief nemeses.

ALEC also wants to go back to a time of separate but unequal educational systems, draining public schools of resources that are re-allocated to private voucher and unaccountable charter schools. Interestingly, the charter movement has abandoned its claim that charter schools can do a better job with less money than traditional public schools.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools now plans to return to states including Wisconsin with new ALEC model bills requiring charter funding parity with traditional public schools, expanding which entities are able to authorize new charter schools, and exempting these schools from all state requirements.

ALEC wants to go back to a time when there was no public safety net, and people experiencing hard times were left to fend for themselves or seek help from a church or charity. In the Medicaid realm, ALEC’s new model policy would make it almost impossible for anyone to qualify for Medicaid. Another model policy requires legislative approval for Medicaid expansions, but not for Medicaid restrictions.

Eric Cochling, Vice President of the right-wing think tank Georgia Center for Opportunity, told ALEC members that people go to charities for their health care. He claimed that Georgia charities would need only $2 million in state funds to meet the health-care needs of the Medicaid population. (Until, of course, former Medicaid recipients end up in hospital emergency rooms.)

And instead of foster care, Tarren Bragdon from the right-wing think tank Foundation for Government Accountability encouraged a “volunteer” system where struggling families are paired with stable families who provide support and even care for their children. Mr. Bragdon encouraged states to draft legislation prohibiting any regulations over these volunteers. So much for child safety and welfare.

ALEC has an incredible infrastructure. ALEC’s corporate members have all of the money in the world. But I do not think most Americans want to go back to a time when workers had no rights, when corporations could pollute our water and skies at their whim, and when eligible people were excluded from the ballot box, and children, the sick, and the vulnerable were cared for, or not, depending on the whims of their neighbors. ALEC represents the past. But most people want to move forward.


State Representative Chris Taylor, a Democrat, represents the 76th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

More information about the "think tanks" described above is available on the "State Policy Network" page of SourceWatch.org, a project of The Center for Media and Democracy, which has now merged with The Progressive magazine.

 

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Comments

I like what you are doing very much. Sunlight the is the best disinfectant and you bring a lot of light to what ALEC is doing to undermine our political process.
God help us if the Republicans get back into power. It is why as a Progressive Democrat i am running again...to submit my ALEC transparency bill once more.
Thank you Chris Taylor
When you have a country of people who believe they are entitled to everything and not to work hard and support their families but want the Government to just hand them everything as OBAMA has set in motion. His 47%
What you have just describe is the 1%. People who all ready have more than they will ever need but yet feel entitled to getting everything else they want as well. You sir have been lied to and now you are spreading those lies as though they are truth either because want it to be true to justify your callus position or you aren't smart enough to know better.
Thank you, Chris.
Fortunately, we do not live in such a country. Sadly, however we do have a substantial population of misguided people like Mr. Whalen who believe the propaganda of the wealthy class. President Obama is NOT a brown-skinned socialist who gives away free food and free health care - you're thinking of Jesus!
Chris, Thank you so much for attending ALEC and especially for reporting on what happens inside the hotel. I live in the Dallas area and participated in the various protests outside the hotel and in other parts of the city. I thought I knew quite a bit about ALEC. However, the event on the SMU campus Thursday night exposing ALEC was a real eye opener. I had no idea how widespread was the penetration of ALEC-related and Koch brothers funded organizations in every state. Based on my own moral and civic values, ALEC is best described as the Satan at work destroying our democratic principles and shared social responsibilities that I always considered our American heritage.

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
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to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
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Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
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Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
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Say that the leaves are harvested 
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Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
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Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
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Will this disturb the sleep 
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Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
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As soon as the generals and the politicos 
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some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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