Yes, there seems to be a run from ALEC and while not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade the question I’m asking here is: So what? This is not the time for high-fives and victory laps. Karl Rove, the Koch Boys, the other corporate donors to ALEC, and the dozens of their front organizations will not loosen their grip on the political narrative. According to the April 21, 2012 Rolling Stone, the Koch Boys alone have invested over $100 million over the past 30 years building an empire of foundations, think tanks, advocacy groups and the like. They aren’t going to walk away from this class war. What they will do, however, is become ever more clever in hiding their agenda. They aren’t going to retreat because there is too much at stake; there is still enough money left in the public till to be sucked into their bank accounts. The billionaire warriors against American social democracy and vital public interests like education and health care will continue to polarize the country using even more surreptitious means. These people have unlimited amounts of money and their own media networks to further their agenda and will do whatever it takes to shove that agenda down the public’s throat. They are relentless and that is exactly how they got to where they are today. We too must be relentless in uncovering their fronts, exposing their agendas and their sycophants, and educating the public about the dangerous consequences to a democratic society that this kind of sociopathic destruction represents.
The most important question to ask right now, as we enter the 2012 election season nationally and in the races for the New Mexico legislature, is how do we elect better, more honorable people whose allegiance is to the electorate first? One place we can start is by naming names and telling voters the truth. Ask the public if they voted for ALEC or for their Senator or Representative. Ask if they are aware that their legislators have been acting on behalf of ALEC to pass laws that originated in a Washington DC conservative think tank sponsored by the largest corporations in the world – corporations which have nothing to do with New Mexico. It needs to be pointed out how some legislators were bought with campaign contributions, a free meal, or a trip to a “seminar” at a fancy resort that just happened to have a great golf course. Voters need to understand what motivates politicians to pass laws and make policies that are antithetical to their constituents – money. Money in the form of campaign contributions from innocuous sounding foundations – that’s the grease.
In a pointed example of the ALEC agenda at work here in New Mexico, the Governor and her Secretary-designate of Education, after having been turned down by the Legislature, continue to relentlessly pursue their discredited education reform agenda to privatize public education, humiliate teachers with Gestapo-like classroom raids, grade schools, teachers, and children, and enable out-of-state corporate for-profit charter schools. In other words, the Legislature and the voice of the public be damned – these agents of big political money have a debt to pay back. In spite of the governor’s campaign shuck and jive about ensuring New Mexico tax dollars are spent in New Mexico, her NMPED outsourced nearly $6.5 million of taxpayer money for services that could have been easily sourced here. Did the PED really need to hire a Texan to advise them on hiring what they call “key people” to assist in formulating policies on Hispanic and Native American education? We don’t have that expertise in-state? Really? Next there is SB 9, which would have put out-of-state businesses on an equal tax footing with in-state businesses – the Governor vetoed that one. When you get to the bottom line, the best interests of New Mexico and New Mexicans are being vetoed as well.
The public information/education campaign must reach out to voters and engage them in dialog before they cast their ballots. Wren Abbot’s excellent reporting in SFR this past week exposing the PED spending mentioned above is exactly what is needed and more of it. We need much more good and accurate information put out there if the public is going to grasp what is being done to their schools specifically and the public trust in general. The public needs to know how differential tax policies hurt them, their neighbors, and local businesses. Patent disregard and disrespect for public opinion and legislative intent must be countered with good reporting, good facts, good dialog, and a good statement of consequences. There’s a lot of work to be done in the weeks and months ahead. We can have our high-fives when better and more honorable people are elected to public office.
This article first appeared in: The Light of New Mexico