The Wizards of ALEC

May 5th 2016

Ian Gurvitz

Despite the feeble Stop Trump ad campaign, the Cruz/Kasich Alliance, and the Cruz/Fiorina Faces of Evil Tour, Republicans are nearing the end of their five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, Trump.


And as Hillary and Bernie play the third act of their political Rom-Com, many hope the Bernie or Bust movement will accept the wisdom of the old, Sanskrit proverb: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”


Current polling shows that if Trump is the nominee, he’ll get schlonged by Hillary, and the down-ballot effect could result in the Senate reverting back to Democratic control, with the balance of power on the Court tilting toward a liberal 5-4 makeup – RIP Scalia. By November, Trump’s political career should be as dead as his steaks, and liberals will proclaim, in the immortal post-Watergate words of President Ford, “Our long, national nightmare is over.”

Larry Sabato's Electoral College Map

Yet, while the media licks its chops in anticipation of the main event, there is a far less publicized undercard fight going on, on the state level, in the form of bills specifically designed to advance a right wing agenda and undo every measure of social and political progress that’s been made since the New Deal. And promoting that fight, like the Don King of politics, is an organization called ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC was co-founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich, who famously stated: “I don’t want everybody to vote. In fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

ALEC logo

ALEC bills itself as a nonprofit organization that connects business with elected state representatives and drafts model legislation in order to “advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism.” In English, “nonprofit” means “corporate funded” — 98 percent of their budget is paid by corporations, think tanks, trade groups, and organizations like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. And “drafting model legislation” means the bills are written by corporate lawyers, then handed to legislators to be introduced in statehouses, often verbatim.

Since its inception, ALEC has worked to reduce corporate regulation and taxation, loosen environmental regulations, increase voter suppression, oppose gun control (stand-your-ground laws), defund Planned Parenthood, restrict access to abortion, gut unions, stall action on climate change, protect corporations from lawsuits, promote tougher anti-immigration policies (Arizona SB 1070), funnel taxpayer money to charter or private schools, privatize prisons, fight minimum wage increases, block paid sick leave, and roll back renewable energy standards.

california state prison

But even more insidious is the Orwellian Newspeak obfuscating the organization's true intent. Subverting government regulations is referred to as “states' rights.” Gutting Social Security and Medicare lurks inside the Trojan Horse of a “balanced budget amendment.” Guarding dark money in politics is twisted into “protecting corporate free speech.” A move to eliminate affirmative action is a “civil rights act.” And public sector union busting is called “right to work,” because, as anyone knows, cops, firemen, nurses, and teachers are just greedy bastards who only got into those professions for the money. Per ALEC’s website, their 2016 Spring Task Force Summit Agenda promises more of the same, including efforts against workers’ ability to file compensation claims and tort reform, intended to limit lawsuits against pharmaceutical and tobacco companies. 

Regardless of who wins in November, the battle for the heart, mind, and soul of America will still rage on, as ALEC works state-by-state to transform the country into a 21st century dystopia of low taxes, no gay rights, no abortions, gutted unions, and Draconian anti-immigration laws. A land where corporations roam as free as the buffalo, energy companies lay oil pipe and frack their brains out, everyone’s got a gun, local schools are free to teach that climate change is a myth, but creationism is real, and that Jesus was a white guy who preached laissez faire capitalism. A place where governments exist to protect the civil rights of corporations and where anyone who can’t pay their college loan or hospital bill is free to go bankrupt, starve, and die, just like the founding fathers intended. 

Anyone interested in what ALEC is up to in their state, or city, (they’ve recently expanded their model to the local level with the American City County Exchange – ACCE) can check out the Center for Media and Democracy’s alecexposed.org. Because, no matter how frighteningly idiotic, racist, sexist, or xenophobic Trump has been, the orange-haired ass clown is right about one thing: bad things are happening out there.

Ian Gurvitz is the author of "Welcome to Dumbfuckistan: The Dumbed-Down, Disinformed, Dysfunctional, Disunited States of America."