World Citizen: The Wave of Right Wing Imperial Power – Part 1


by Scott Ragsdale

This is the third in a series of essays designed to draw conclusions from our political predicament that will allow liberal and conservative citizens to return decency to power.

Essay #1: At the root of Trump’s partisan and narcissistic Administration and the power of the Tea Party is the toxic narrative of modern American Exceptionalism–an exceptionalism that is decades in the making and has to be replaced by positive dignified inclusive leadership.

Essay #2: No one should be surprised by the actions of this Administration since they are described in detail in the 2016 Republican Party Platform. Nevertheless, it is alarming to see these policies put into action, even for those with traditional conservative leanings.  We must resist now and press “reset” together in 2018.

Essay #3: The Wave of Right Wing Imperial Power.”

  • “Liberals and Conservatives”
  • The Origins of ALEC”
  • “Meet ALEC – How Imperialism Pulls the Strings”
  • “SIX and The Attributes of Successful State Level Liberal Lawmaking”


Liberals are different than conservatives in what they consider more or less important.  While conservatives and liberals share an interest in fairness and the ability to care for others, conservatives care just as much about purity/sanctity, respect for authority and loyalty. Liberals are less interested in those qualities. These differences can help explain the success of the conservatively led US Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. ALEC helps introduce legislation representing neoconservative, the religious right and a smattering of racist right ideology at the state level.  Just as bracing as the effectiveness of ALEC is the lack of an ALEC on the left until recently. (SIX, the progressive State Innovation Exchange).

Liberals and Conservatives

When discussing the success of conservative organizations that support political goals it’s useful to loosely barrow work by Jonathan Haidt.  His work suggests liberals are more inspired by fairness than conservatives. Liberals, teach, feed, care, but seldom punish or seek systems of authority.  Conservatives on the other hand have steadily increased their political power through their adherence toward aspirations of pure authority and respect (increasingly expressed in religious terms).  From Haidt, and from observation, I conclude that the liberal tendency to avoid using authority or belief systems to inspire or punish has greatly atrophied liberal political power.

Haidt talks about the great dislike conservatives have for unstructured liberalism – leave no one behind.  No one!?  Nothing makes conservatism a team sport like the perception of imminent unstructured liberalism, even if it does not exist (Trumps campaign rhetoric in a nutshell).

Well before Trump the rigorously conservative has moved the country right. Conservative institutions and narratives have their smaller numbered and better financed following pulling in unison. This essay looks at the origins and actions of one of the most influential conservative institutions, the American Legislative Exchange (ALEC), and it’s increasingly far-right legislative agenda.

Note: If you know all about the Powell Memo and ALEC then I recommend you skip to SIX and the Attributes of Successful Stage Level Liberal Lawmaking in  http://The Wave of Right Wing Imperial Power Part 2

The Origins of ALEC

Eight presidents ago, a president named Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.  The tragedy of the Vietnam war would end a year later. Israel held on as Egypt and Syria tried to retake Israeli gains made in the 1967 war.  Kennedy’s space program had grown into the first US space station “Skylab.” The momentum of black civil rights had carried over to women’s rights. The EPA was newly formed. The Black Panthers would soon help elect Oakland’s first black mayor in 1977.  Men wore their hair long and the Equal Rights Amendment had passed congress and was sent to the states for ratification.  It was liberalism run amuck!

No, it was not. We northern Californians were just as worried about the economy (OPEC oil “shock.”) as we were mildly hopeful about nature based politics finally taking hold.  Myopic as usual we were not aware that a good portion of the population could not identify with all this social progress.  It was viewed as a threat to rightful power.  Reprisals were in play and one of the most influential was the rise of neoconservative.

History looks at the 1971 Powell Memo as the embodiment of the businessman’s reprisal to the “explosion of policy activism” from 60’s and 70’s public interest groups.  It drew a level headed and pragmatic, if secretive, response from Lewis Powell whose legal work had the ear of business.  He wrote his memo to the US Chamber of Commerce which read in part “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”

While the era was in the thick of civil rights advancement, it was the reprisal we would live with more. Powell’s long-term perspective is admirable and business leaders’ unity of purpose, to crush social progress, culpable.  He and his colleagues were able to pry the Democrats away from labor and they became the dominant source of money for both sides of the isle.  National and state politicians had to make increasingly favorable laws and regulations for industry to keep their jobs, and still do.

When businesses make money what’s the problem? The larger problem is not business.  The problem is that money buys influence.  Business should not be left unchecked as to how to distribute the benefits that come from massive increases in productivity. It’s the lawmakers job to fix this inequity and that has not happened for 40 years because most of the people paying attention to lawmaking have wanted it that way. See  http://The Wave of Right Wing Imperial Power Part 2


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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