Paul Krugman writes about a connection between FLorida’s “stand your ground” law and the infamous ALEC.
Specifically, language virtually identical to Floridaâ€™s law is featured in a template supplied to legislators in other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed organization that has managed to keep a low profile even as it exerts vast influence (only recently, thanks to yeoman work by the Center for Media and Democracy, has a clear picture of ALECâ€™s activities emerged). And if there is any silver lining to Trayvon Martinâ€™s killing, it is that it might finally place a spotlight on what ALEC is doing to our society â€” and our democracy.
ALEC, of course, is also behind a lot of anti-union, anti-consumer protection and anti-environmental protection bills that have been popping up in state legislatures by the truckload. ALEC is funded by several big corporations — including Koch Industries — and interest groups. It invites state legislators and their families to all-expenses-paid “conferences” at luxury resorts, gives them the boilerplate of bills it wants to become law, and even coaches the saps how to sell the bills to constituents and other legislators. This accounts for a rash of nearly identical bills being introduced in many state legislatures at once. (See, for example, four ALEC bills vetoed by the governor of Minnesota last month.)
But where does the encouragement of vigilante (in)justice fit into this picture? In part itâ€™s the same old story â€” the long-standing exploitation of public fears, especially those associated with racial tension, to promote a pro-corporate, pro-wealthy agenda. Itâ€™s neither an accident nor a surprise that the National Rifle Association and ALEC have been close allies all along.
And ALEC, even more than other movement-conservative organizations, is clearly playing a long game. Its legislative templates arenâ€™t just about generating immediate benefits to the organizationâ€™s corporate sponsors; theyâ€™re about creating a political climate that will favor even more corporation-friendly legislation in the future.
Did I mention that ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote?
Do read all of Krugman’s column, because he provides a lot of details we all need to know, and I don’t want to re-run the whole column here. Just go read it.
Sorta kinda related — be sure to also read “The Outsourced Party”