This article cross-posted from The Nation
What's happening with ALEC is good. But not good enough.
Pressured by a coalition of civil rights, clean government and religious
groups to quit their memberships in the American Legislative Exchange
Council, multinational corporations are indeed exiting ALEC. Now, it's time to demand that the 2,000 legislators who have joined ALEC do the same.
Coca-Cola quit ALEC Wednesday. PepsiCo revealed the same day that it had
quietly decided to let its membership lapse. Intuit Inc. confirmed that
it is exiting ALEC. And Kraft Foods has announced that: "Our membership
in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including
limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew."
Translation: Kraft -- like other corporations that produce consumer
products and, thus, must appeal to the great mass of Americans -- no longer
wants to be associated with a shadowy group that links corporations and
legislators in order to advance extreme (and extremely unpopular)
Since the Center for Media and Democracy's "ALEC Exposed" project was developed last summer in cooperation with The Nation,
millions of Americans have become aware that ALEC uses corporate money
to craft one-size-fits-all "model legislation" that its member
legislators then propose and pass in the states.
The "ALEC Exposed" project revealed the back story of how this 40-year-old group uses an elaborate system of corporate-guided "task forces" to promote:
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* Restrictive voter ID laws and
an array of related initiatives that threaten to suppress voting by
residents of rural regions, students, senior citizens and people of
* Anti-labor laws
designed to limit the ability of Americans to organize and have a voice
in their workplaces and the public life of their communities, states
* Tort "reform," deregulation and corporate tax-slashing schemes that eliminate tools to assure multinational corporations act responsibly and contribute to the communities and states where they operate.
* Money-in-politics initiatives
that seek to remove barriers to domination of elections by corporations
and billionaire right-wing donors--such as longtime ALEC supporters
Charles and David Koch.
* Privatization schemes that undermine public education
and public services, posing particular threats to rural communities and
urban neighborhoods that rely on strong public institutions.
* Kill-at-will laws that prevent police and prosecutors from effectively investigating shootings such as that of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Bo Morrison in Wisconsin and others who have been killed since states began to enact
so-called "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground" laws.
The response to revelations regarding the role ALEC has played in
warping the legislative processes of the states has been remarkable.
Civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the Urban League have focused
on concerns about the damage done with regard to voting rights issues,
unions have focused on concerns about attacks on labor rights and
threats to economic fairness, immigrant rights groups have raised
issues. And, following the Trayvon Martin shooting, ColorofChange began to challenge corporations to reconsider their association with ALEC.
Responsible corporations--or, at the very least, corporations that do not
want to lose market share in the face of consumer boycotts--are exiting ALEC.
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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
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