The Real Reason the Left Is Attacking ALEC

Relatively minor items on ALEC's agenda have been twisted into the very ugly charge of racism.


The methods and tone employed by those attacking the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC for short, reveal how desperate the professional left is feeling as they head into what they know will be a close election. After having their political heads handed to them in the 2010 cycle, they regrouped and decided to try to destroy the credibility of their opponents.

The 2010 election was about government overreach, and the poster child of that was Obama's massive takeover of our nation's healthcare system, considered the crown jewel of Obama's legislative achievements by the left (if not by the majority of Americans). That being the case, organizations that fought the implementation of this legislative and regulatory fiasco were at the top of the list for attack. ALEC has been instrumental in educating states about how to push back against the mandates and coercive provisions in the law. Specifically, they drafted model legislation entitled the "Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act," based closely on the language of Arizona's Proposition 106.  The antithesis of Obama's healthcare "reform" bill, the language is simple and clear. Succinctly, it protects the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services and prohibits penalties levied on patients for failing to purchase health insurance.   

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

How effective has ALEC's model legislation been? Well, at last count, some 12 states had enacted measures, three had enacted constitutional amendments, and at least three more states (Florida, Wyoming, and Alabama) will have constitutional amendments on the 2012 ballot. Just as important, more than half the states in the country are suing to have the Obamacare law overturned. 

ALEC has proposed hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of model legislation over the years—a smart approach for sharing best practices among state officials around the country. Most of these deal with important aspects of state fiscal management. This dovetails nicely with their extremely valuable study "Rich States, Poor States" comparing the relative health of state economies across the country. (Which should be required reading for anyone opening or relocating a business, by the way.)

Now, it wouldn't surprise me if ALEC's opponents disagree with most of their free market policies, but note that those are not being singled out for attack. Instead, opponents are isolating two provisions that have very little to do with the primary thrust of ALEC's efforts: voter ID and "stand your ground" legislation.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Are 'Stand Your Ground' Laws a Good Idea?

Interestingly, most Americans think it is perfectly reasonable to ask someone to provide proof of identification before casting a vote. My guess is that the majority of people believe a standard that one must pass in order to buy a beer isn't too high for the privilege of participating in an election that will determine the path our country takes for the next few years. 

By and large, Americans also support the "stand your ground" legislation—which is one of the reasons it has been signed into law by Democrat and Republican governors alike. But these two relatively minor items on ALEC's agenda have been twisted into the very ugly charge of racism. Of course, some of those making such stark accusations are people like Bob Edgar from Common Cause, the same organization that last year organized a protest at an event I was attending during which their activists called for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, stated that Justice Thomas should be "sent back to the fields," and demanded that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito be deported. By any fair comparison, those statements are clearly racist, whereas requiring an ID to vote simply is not.

[Peter Roff: Obama Administration's Texas Decision Invites Voter Fraud]

So, what makes more sense from a political standpoint:  ALEC being attacked because it effectively advocates free market policies and is a driving force behind more than half the states in the country opposing the Obama administration's healthcare law, or the group being painted as racist for two relatively small items in their portfolio? The motivation of their opponents seems to be the former, even if their weapon of choice is the latter. 

  • Read Susan Milligan: Maryland Voter Fraud Conviction Is an Important Warning
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