ALEC - The Good and the Bad
Why There Is Such a Disconnect Between GOP Legislators and Grassroots Conservatives
Have you ever wondered where Arkansas legislators get all those bills they file; why even conservative legislators propose and often pass all these laws for which the conservatives back home never asked or wanted; why we can't get our conservative legislators to listen to the people back home when they do propose bills that surprise and even shock the grassroots ; and why the establishment Republicans keep winning in elections and policy decisions?
The information below may very well explain this puzzle. The same organization that true conservatives agree with about 90% of the time may be the very reason true conservatives never win the battle over establishment Republicans often called RINO's (Republicans In Name Only). It took me more than twenty years working with legislators and legislation to understand the following and I hope it helps other better understand the disconnect between legislators and the grassroots.
There are two organizations that have great influence over state legislators across the nation, including Arkansas:
· The National Conference of State Legislatures [NCSL] that mostly influences Democrat legislators, and mostly financed by the government. I believe the State pays the $50.00 fee for NCSL membership fees.
· American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] that mostly influence Republican legislators and also has a membership of legislators. An Eagle Forum President from another state said that ALEC agreed with them (true conservatives) about 90% of the time. Some says it is more like 80% of the time. That 90% degree of agreement sounds good, but couldn't we say the same agreement is true for true conservatives and the establishment Republicans - especially in rhetoric?
· So I presume we could say ALEC disagrees with liberals about 80 to 90% of the time (and that is good) and the liberal Arkansas Times loves to blast ALEC, the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity (all inter related). But the problem is that NCSL and ALEC work together on several issues (see documentation below). In my opinion, it is in those 10 to 20% of the times where ALEC disagrees with the true conservatives and agrees with the liberals that destroys the goals of the true conservative base. Feel free to disagree. For example, ALEC has been a powerful force for 2nd Amendment Rights but also powerful force behind all those Educational Reforms that are sooooooooooo government controlled. See more on that point below. See my last paragraphs on possible solutions that could alleviate some of this disconnect between legislators and the grassroots.
Following are quotes mostly from ALEC that show the power of ALEC. ( Footnotes include links to quotes.) You can find articles all over the web from liberal opponents of ALEC that probably include some basic information that has some merit, but I have not used any of those since they come from liberals. I hate to criticize ALEC at all because the liberals do enough of that. And ALEC has been a powerful force for some very good legislation that may not have ever seen the light of day without their influence. But are they too powerful now?
As you read these quotes , ask yourself if ALEC would appear too powerful if it were a liberal organization? Or just a Republican establishment organization. See links for these quotes in footnotes.
ALEC is the only state legislative organization that adopts policies and creates model legislation for its members to use in their states. To date, ALEC has nearly 1,000 pieces of model legislation. 1
Throughout the year ALEC conducts issue-specific seminars in 20 to 30 state capitols. ALEC Academies are special two-day- intensive programs on specific issues, featuring national experts as faculty. 2
Unique to ALEC Task Forces is their public-private partnership, a synergistic alliance that identifies issues and then responds with common sense, results-oriented policies. Legislators welcome their private sector counterparts to the table as equals, working in unison to solve the challenges facing the nation. 3
[My note: Private sector has the money to influence the legislators. Obama constantly uses and Agenda 21 promotes public-private partnerships throughout their documents - is this not cronyism? And naturally the businesses are going to support legislation that looks out for their own interests more than for the citizenry. Businesses and/or corporations pay for membership in ALEC from $7,000 to $25,000. And many large corporations, like the Koch brothers and their foundations, donate huge amounts of money to ALEC and to legislators, but this also happens on the liberal side of the aisle. One could argue, therefore, that this influence is essential for the conservatives - but the problem still exists.
ALEC serves as the "state legislators' think tank." Join nearly 2,000 fellow state legislators at ALEC - the nation's largest nonpartisan, individual membership association. 4
Each state has its own two state chairmen (legislators), "State Chairmen duties shall include recruiting new members, working to ensure introduction of model legislation, suggesting task force membership, establishing state steering committees, planning issue events, and …. Each ALEC State Chairman shall appoint a Private Sector State Chairman to serve concurrently with the State Chairman. . ." [Note: See footnote 5 for the link for names of legislators in Arkansas that are state chairmen now and some for previous years.] 5
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation’s largest nonpartisan individual membership association of state legislators, with over 2,000 state legislators across the nation and more than 100 alumni members in Congress. 6 [ALEC is neat way to move up to US Congress, huh?]
To date, ALEC’s Task Forces have considered, written and approved hundreds of model bills on a wide range of issues, model legislation that will frame the debate today and far into the future. Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law.7
My note: One Arkansas legislator tweeted that he had received his ALEC packet and could now file his bills.
Most Arkansans would be surprised that a mostly conservative organization would have been one of the most powerful forces in the nation in giving us the government controlled educational reforms. On its website, ALEC says, "Since its founding, ALEC has amassed an unmatched record of achieving ground-breaking changes in public policy. Policies such as teacher competency testing, pension reform, and Enterprise Zones represent just a handful of ALEC’s victories in the states." 8
In another quote ALEC refers to it as "holding teachers accountable." Teacher competency (accountability) or teacher testing was the basis and beginning of the educational reforms. (This is an area where NCSL and ALEC work together just as we saw Democrats and Republicans both pushing the educational reforms, and continually even to this day marketing them as local control.) Businesses pushed the consolidation movement in Arkansas as well, and I am sure ALEC was also behind that movement too. . Businesses were told it would save money to consolidate the schools, but it hasn't; it just gave the state control over our schools. 9
Gayle Teale Potter, an Arkansas State Department appointee of Clinton who began the educational reforms in the state, told me on the phone years ago that surveys had shown that Arkansas citizens would be willing to increase taxes for "accountability." In other words, they tested their marketing tool and found that "accountability" worked to deceive the people. The educational reforms were built and marketed as holding teachers and schools accountable resulting in the testing of teachers and the testing, testing, testing of students that resulted in total government control of the curriculum and the ability for the state to take over our schools.
Businesses and corporations (a central part of ALEC) were the main players in the educational reforms. In the first large grant (funded mostly by corporations) that formed the basis for Clinton's educational reforms in 1992 is this quote: "In Kentucky [called the lighthouse for educational reforms by Clinton], there are a number of public engagement efforts underway including the Kentucky Partnership, which is comprised of nearly sixty members led by The Business Roundtable companies. The Partnership has launched a statewide $1.3 million media campaign in support of a reform agenda virtually identical to ours." I believe most of the businesses were deceived as to what the reforms were, but we definitely talked to enough people in Arkansas to know the businesses were the major players behind the reforms. 10
ALEC also regularly (17 reports to date) does a comprehensive report and "grades all 50 states according to data from national test scores…..and other benchmarks of quality." [In reality, as a teacher of 27 years, the testing system has been totally corrupted and has very little meaning now, and the benchmarks of quality are mostly based on the government educational reforms' definition of quality, and not on real achievement.] 11
It is hard to imagine what laws ALEC could get passed that would compensate for taking away local and parental control of the schools - with all the liberal teaching and influence our children will get now that the government is in total control - the plan the liberals designed all along.
Another area in which ALEC and NSCL agree - they both encourage a Con Con (Constitutional Convention) which they call an Amendment Convention or Constitutional Amendment By a Convention of the States. (Note: Nancy Pelosi was one of keynote speakers at 2010 NCSL Legislative Summit in 2010) ALEC has a 36-page Handbook encouraging and explaining this Constitutional Convention. NSCL (remember the organization to which most Democrats belong ) has on their website a power point presentation encouraging and explaining an Amendment Convention and refers to ALEC's model for it as an example. (See footnote 12 for articles that explain the Constitutional Convention if you are not familiar with the controversy; or even if you are, these articles will be enlightening.) Soros also advocates a Constitutional Convention.
For a very good explanation of the controversy see Powerful Forces Calling For Constitutional Convention by Tom DeWeese at this link: http://www.newswithviews.com/DeWeese/tom169.htm - a very good explanation of the controversy.
Following are the safeguards that the NCSL says will keep the Convention under control for the purpose it was called. These safeguards indicate how dangerous the Constitutional Convention would be; and as you can see, in our day and time the so called "safeguards' are laughable, especially the part about the media and the delegates. And who knows how the Supreme Court will rule and who will be on the bench if a Constitutional Convention ever happens? There are no instructions for how the delegates will be selected in the US Constitution for a Constitutional Convention so no telling who the delegates would be - maybe the liberal Joyce Elliott or Kathy Webb type in Arkansas. Would our 2nd Amendment even survive?
"(1) the State Legislatures will establish convention procedures that could ensure a Convention would not go beyond its mandate and (2) the Supreme Court can rule on the inevitable legal challenges. Then, States would select delegates to attend the Convention on their behalf. Delegates would almost certainly mirror the current political make-up of the States, thus minimizing the risks posed by radical elements. Then, the Convention itself would take place. The intense focus of the media, coupled with the checks and balances provided by the State Legislatures, the Supreme Court, the delegates, and the ratification requirement, would eliminate any realistic prospect of factionalism or radicalism. 13
The educational reforms and encouraging a Constitutional Convention are just two of the areas where I believe ALEC is dangerous in those areas in which they and true conservatives disagree, but there are many more. Many of the bills that are Agenda 21 bills in nature are supported by ALEC. The legislators don't seem to recognize them as Agenda 21 bills, and maybe ALEC doesn't either. But remember the major influences in ALEC are businesses so who knows how they profit or think they will profit from these Agenda 21 bills, or some of the other model bills?
Since ALEC has such power, influence, money and are mostly conservative, the legislators start to believe that if it is an ALEC bill, it is a good bill. ALEC also affords them a way to get legislation passed, provides them models for the legislation, and affords them a way to the top - so the opinions of the voters back home have little influence in comparison, and we wind up with all the laws we never wanted (and even opposed) and keep getting establishment type legislation rather than true conservative legislation. The legislators hear from experts that are so good at persuasion (deception) they could have made me as a teacher believe their reforms were good had I not been an experienced teacher myself. The legislators are all there together talking among themselves, the herd mentality in Little Rock takes over, and it becomes like a train coming down the tracks which the conservatives can't stop.
Americans for Prosperity, which is inter related with ALEC, and the Koch brothers and their foundations, is exercising tremendous influence at the Capitol in Little Rock as well. When the Tea Parties from all over the state got together in Searcy, Arkansas the first year after they formed and had Tea Parties all over the state, they were so concerned that someone would "take them over" that they aggressively argued with every speaker. I thought to myself, "I don't think anyone is going to take this group of people over." And they haven't at the grassroots level; but in reality, Americans for Prosperity has now pretty much become the leader and spokesman for the Tea Parties at the Capitol.
ALEC is also working at the national level, and according to the history I read, was begun in Washington with a very good purpose in mind. Like many other good beginnings, ALEC is so powerful now that the grass roots can't overcome them in those areas where they disagree - grassroots lack the money that is so important in politics.
Ideas For Solution - If you have other ideas for solutions, please let me know.
However, some or much of the problem still lies at the feet of true conservatives. Until we begin to realize we get what we pay for (in money and sacrifice) in the political arena and start putting enough money behind the candidates so they don't have to rely on ALEC businesses to support them, we will probably never succeed in getting the conservative legislation we desire. And more conservatives have to sacrifice their time and stay informed to educate themselves and then work with our legislators to educate them on issues. We have to refuse to let the media intimidate us and cause us to back off our support for those candidates that the media tells us are too conservative to be electable and support them with our time and money.
ALEC does put their money and influence behind many good endeavors. However if they cause us to lose our Constitution through the Constitutional Convention they propose and other bad legislation, will not all their work have been in vain? An Eagle Forum Director from another state, who said ALEC agrees with them 90% of the time, told me that every time the legislators go to an ALEC conference they come back and file some bills that Eagle Forum has to fight back, especially on holding a Constitutional Convention.
The corporations and businesses are the powerful influences behind our legislation and are often looking out for their own interests - interests which many times are not the same interests of the grassroots. If we could get our legislators to stay in touch with the grassroots and honor the wishes of the people whom they represent, many of whom have more time to do the research on the bills, and pass only those bills where the grassroots and ALEC agree, we could overcome the Republican establishment's power and make some real difference with a Republican majority in the state.
Unless we do that, I fear the Republicans will quickly lose their majority, and a third party will be formed - which may or may not be good for the country or the conservatives.
Posted March 29, 2013
10. http://www.wpaag.org/Marc%20Tucker%20Grant%20-%20Basis%20for%20Act%20236.htm , page 11; and this link for other quote. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-education-report-card-ranks-massachusetts-first-west-virginia-last-137952333.html
12. a. Powerful Forces Calling For Constitutional Convention by Tom DeWeese at this link: http://www.newswithviews.com/DeWeese/tom169.htm
b. See this link, page 13 for ALEC's actual model: http://www.alec.org/doc s/ArticleVHandbook.pdf
c. For NCSL link to power point doing the same at this link:
http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/leaders/leaders-agenda-ncsl-legislative-summit-2010.aspx and click on PowerPoint: Time For States to Amend U.S. Constitution?
d. For Actual power point encouraging Constitutional Convention see this link: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/leaders/leaders-agenda-ncsl-legislative-summit-2010.aspx
See this link that explains in detail why Phyllis Schlafly with Eagle Forum opposes a Constitutional Convention. http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/1996/may96/psrmay96.html and
e. Link to article on 35 AR GOP legislators voting against Constitutional Convention of any kind. http://www.wpaag.org/Leg%202013%20-%20Con%20Con%20%2035%20AR%20GOP%20voted%20against%20ConCon%202009.htm
13.http://www.ncsl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=gxlwDaVfCg4=&tabid=20865 Another link that shows NCSL is promoting the Constitutional Convention: http://www.ncsl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=8AvzFHfsbfA%3d&tabid=20865