by Scott Ragdale
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).
Meet ALEC – How Imperialism Pulls the Strings
In 1973, The American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, was formed in Chicago in response to EPA regulations. Then it was called the Conservative Caucus of State Legislatures, but the organization changed its name because the use of “conservative” was unpopular with American voters of the day. ALEC then and now writes conservative state laws. ALEC is where Republican’s come to look for state level financial and administrative help to pass bills.
ALEC supports voter ID/voter restrictions, anti-immigration laws, private prisons allotment, N.R.A. ‘Shoot to Kill’ laws and greenhouse gas opt-outs. “Adopted first in the states, by the time these laws bubble up to the national level, they’re the conventional wisdom on policy.” Doug Clopp, deputy director of programs at Common Cause April 14, 2012, Nancy Scola The Atlantic.
You can add publicly funded school vouchers for private schools, legislation to make support for BDS a hate crime, and right-to-work laws that gut school teacher union funding.
“Arizona state Sen. Steve Farley aired the idea of mandating church attendance in his state. Now, Vice President Pence has placed his home state’s 2015 “religious freedom” law, (which gives business owners the right to decline serving customers based on religious grounds) for consideration in the House.” (March 13, 2015, Lisa Suhay, The Christian Science Monitor).
ALEC has been on an increasing radical-right trajectory which has culminated in very public promotion of biblical capitalistic laws. “Biblical capitalism reinterprets the Christian holy book to make the case that libertarian fiscal policy is divinely inspired. Proponents argue that Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, minimum wage laws, social welfare policies, collective bargaining rights and environmental regulation.” October 19, 2011, Thomas Ruff, In These Times. (Note: this kind of extremist point of view is very attractive to media outlets, so it’s much of what you see and hear. My experience is that, more often, religious people are not inclined to insist that market rules be biblically inspired.)
More can be read about ALEC in this hyperlinked New York Times article. I suggest you prepare by having some chocolate nearby as it’s a lot more news about extreme GOP state power. That’s why this is no-fooling dangerous for liberals. In the majority of the states in this country, Republican majorities are restricting the income, voice, lifestyle and voting power of every type of “out-of-power” voter. Deliberate action is called for to reverse this trend.
SIX and The Attributes of Successful State Level Liberal Lawmaking
Like ALEC, conservative political action committees, think tanks and voter associations are committed. In that commitment voters find cohesion, moral and spiritual leadership. ALEC exhibits four attributes of a successful state by state lawmaking institution: consolidation, tent building, consistency and inclusion.
The liberal ALEC, the State Innovation Exchange (SIX) will need to embrace these attributes as well. Formed in 2014 SIX has “a long-term vision of building progressive power and infrastructure.” SIX was formed from the merger of the Progressive Sates Network, Center of State Innovation and the American Legislative Issues and Campaign Exchange (ALICE). It’s a good sign that SIX was able to start by consolidating often fiercely siloed liberal vision and talent.
Consolidation: political action committees, voter organizations and think tanks, like SIX are going to have to close ranks. I suspect that we on the left have too many organizations. Everybody wants to be executive director and coordinated action is not as evident on the left as success would seem to demand. If consolidation is happening, so far it’s well-kept secret.
Tent building: It is important to prominently feature faith based traditions within the liberal tent (not necessarily “God bless America). Liberals have similar core spiritual groundings to those of the right, some of it coming from the same Abrahamic sources, some of it coming from first people’s great spirit traditions, some of it atheistic and others. This tent of faith needs to be part of the expression of effective liberal lawmaking. Separation of church and state, not adversarial state and church.
Consistency: the state voter rigorously faithful and the less rigorous and looking for a consistent way forward. They are not immediately positive about a world where they are obligated to accept everyone’s differences, particularly if they feel their traditions are having to take a back seat. They are looking for a consistent reliable vision where they know where they stand. They do not want to be faced with more creative, ever evolving systems of governance.
Inclusion: state voters want to be included. We have a lot in common. Someone who is sweating it out at the hot yoga studio is using the same gas resource as the driver of the jacked-up Ford F150. If we are going to renewably power vehicles and gyms, schools and churches, homes and businesses we are going to have to work together, benefit together and compromise from time to time.
SIX has some ways to go before it’s clear how successful it will be. If it can help consolidate liberal organizations within states, identify with state/local faith-based traditions (that respect separation of church and state), develop outreach that present consistent goals, and include locals in lawmaking, it may succeed. Together these attributes sound like political party tenets, but State Innovation Exchange is not attempting to replicate political parties. The State Innovation exchange is a liberal lawmaking service. Check SIX out and then decide to help make it powerful. This is a very practical and necessary institution to build.