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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How ALEC is destroying what little is left of US democracy

I have had a number of people asking me why they should care about ALEC.
Before I can answer that, all those who ask that question need to ask themselves: “Why do I or why should I vote?”
Seriously—we are encouraged to go to the polls every few years and cast a vote for a candidate. Why? What are we deciding? How does this affect us?

Democracy has Greek roots that means “of the people.” Cleisthenes or Κλεισθένης, of Athens, was a Greek tyrant who is given credit for starting a system of voting that we call democracy. In his time, only men, citizens, non-slaves and adults could vote. That is not much different than our founding fathers of the United States. (Ironically, Cleisthenes was banished from Athens by his own system and he was never seen again.) The idea was that leaders would be chosen by the people.
There was another form of democracy called Oligarchy(from Greek λιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from λίγος (olígos), meaning "a few", and ρχω (archo). People had to have a certain amount of wealth to vote and even more wealth to run for office. Our own “democracy” once required land ownership for a vote, originally, which was about the only difference between ancient Greek democracy and that of our forefathers.

For years the US had picked its political leaders based on Political Machines. The machines could include Unions, businesses, local political bosses and local special interest groups.They played a large role in the elections.
Today the US is much more of an oligarchy than a democracy. Businesses take a direct role in politics the way they have learned to run television programming through commercials, since the 1950s. ALEC is a good example as to how such commercialization has taken over our politics.

According to John Nichols of the Nation;
Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.
After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”
“We need to make big, fundamental, permanent structural changes. It’s why we did what we did in Wisconsin,” declared Walker, who at the annual dinner of the right-wing Goldwater Institute said that compromising with unions was “bogus.”
Getting rid of unions is a major priority of the of the Republican Party. Unions allow workers the right to bargain for their rights, benefits and wages. Many people without these rights have complained that they just have to take what they can get. But by opposing unions, they oppose their own rights as workers. It’s as if “I can’t get those things so why should you get them just because you joined a union?” The answer is that the ruling 1 % has chosen a “divide and conquer strategy” and all who buy into that are hurting themselves as much as those who have the “cushy jobs of union people.”
As for ALEC, Nichols said;
“Even if the argument were valid, its totalitarian premise begs the question: How much more money could be saved by taking away other human rights.
But, urged on by Walker, Arizona Republicans are putting those questions aside and racing to implement a militant anti-labor agenda modeled on legislation enacted last year in Wisconsin—and promoted by national groups such as the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC’s model legislation, revealed by the joint Nation/Center  for Media & Democracy project “ALEC Exposed,” provides conservative legislators in the states with preapproved bills and resolutions for attacks on collection bargaining in particular and organized labor in general. And the group has worked closely with Brewer and many Arizona legislators, including recently ousted Arizona Senate President Russell Pierce.
Indeed, Brewer began outlining the Arizona plan at an ALEC meeting in December, when she declared her intention to “reform the state’s personnel system” in order to make it easier to hire and fire public employees
That inspired speculation about Brewer wanting to be “the Scott Walker of the West.”
So we see that ALEC is out to crush the rights of working people nation-wide. It is not the only corporate pact organization trying to control our legislators and trying to have total domination over the political system. The Koch Brothers and the Goldwater Institute come to mind immediately.
Let’s take a quick look at Kansas. The majority  of Kansas voters will not vote Democrat because that party “will take their guns away” (sic) and they support gay rights. So what about a Republican primary”? Those were done away with and replaced with caucus system that allows only active members of the Republican Party to vote or take part. That means that for the majority of voters, the Republican Party picks the candidate behind closed doors before the general election and after that, a Democrat can’t win. So what are we voting on?......a pre-picked Republican that can’t be voted out. If that candidate is funded by ALEC (with thousands of dollars of campaign contributions) and parroting slogans they got directly from ALEC, we are voting for ALEC to run our political system. GET IT?
Worst of all, politicians from this state, who have few ideas of their own, actually present ALEC positions as if they had thought these issues through themselves. According to ALEC Exposed:

“Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.”
So they plagiarize on written statements as well as misrepresent themselves to the public.
Not since the President Richard Nixon administration have politicians tried so hard to subvert the US democratic process to create a dictatorship of the ruling class (the 1 %) and push the actual voting public out of the process altogether.
For some this may mean nothing at all. For those who wonder why we call ourselves a democracy and what that word really means, I suggest they study up on ALEC and who is owned by this group. It doesn’t take long to realize that US democracy is a farce.
-សតិវ អតុ

Thomas Jefferson

毛泽东 New Democratic Revolution

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