ALEC has sent out a press release announcing a very significant change in its organizational structure and goals. The headline: ALEC Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth — Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues. Here’s the gist:
“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.
“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned….
“Our free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies are the reason ALEC enjoys the support of legislators on both sides of the aisle and in all 50 states. ALEC members are interested in solutions that put the American economy back on track. This is our mission, and it is what distinguishes us.”
Except those really aren’t the reasons ALEC was founded. The brains behind ALEC were Paul Weyrich, who also founded the Heritage Foundation and joined with Jerry Falwell to found Moral Majority, and other right wing legislators focused on social issues like Henry Hyde.
One of the first to envision fusing the conservative movement with evangelicals, he and the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority as well. In fact, Weyrich coined the phrase the “moral majority”. No believer in majority rule, he said: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” His statement was a harbinger to ALEC’s later very dogged voter suppression activities. “Recently Voter ID legislation based on ALEC’s template was introduced in states across the country and passed in at least fourteen states,” under the guise of preventing election fraud.
So voter suppression was part of the organization’s charter, apparently.
ALEC’s model legislation has been instrumental in the explosive growth of the prison population. It helped pioneer “three strikes” laws, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and “truth in sentencing” laws, which serve to abolish or curb parole so converts are made to serve the entire length of their sentence. “Because of truth-in-sentencing and other tough sentencing measures, state prison populations grew by half a million inmates in the 1990s even while crime rates fell dramatically.” In fact, one of ALEC’s benefactors, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made an offer to cash- strapped states to buy up their prison populations at a cost savings as long as the state kept their prisons 90 percent filled to capacity.
And of course ALEC was behind the Stand Your Ground laws that have become such a big issue since the Trayvon Martin shooting.
And now ALEC is dropping this part of their agenda. This is a huge victory for anyone who care about human rights.