By Paul Schwietering
If anyone should have known what Fascism consists of, it would have been Benito Mussolini. How did Mussolini define Fascism? Mussolini said “Fascism is simply the corporate control of government.” In fairness, Mussolini was leaving out some details about his particular brand of Fascism, such as billy clubs, blackshirts, etc.; however, Mussolini’s definition was essentially correct. Since he was Fascism’s progenitor, how could it be otherwise?
It was once said by Sinclair Lewis that “when Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” It has been many years since Lewis made his prediction, and over those years there have been candidates who were sedulous whores for the corporate interests and have used “patriotism” and religion for political advancement. However, Fascism in America today prefers to advance its agenda in secret.
Exhibit A of this secrecy is an organization which calls itself the “American Legislative Exchange Council,” or “ALEC.” Its name is ironic, since it is one of the most un-American organizations to have existed in the nation’s history. It focuses almost exclusively on lobbying state legislatures on behalf of moneyed interests, and against workers, the environment, and average citizens who have been wronged by big corporations.
Because it doesn’t participate in campaigns and focuses on state legislatures rather than Washington, it had managed to stay under the radar to such a degree that many Americans were unaware of its existence.
A contributing factor in ALEC’s anonymity was the fact that its meetings are closed to the public. Rather than participate in campaigns, ALEC’s lobbyists approach new legislators after the election and ask them to join. These legislators are then presented with bills written by ALEC’s (corporate) lobbyists, which the legislators introduce to the legislature word for word. Needless to say, these bills are a dream for the moneyed interests that bankroll ALEC and a nightmare for everyone else.
Ironically, it was one of ALEC’s least harmful legislative priorities, the “Stand Your Ground” laws, which put an end to ALEC’s anonymity. Self-appointed “neighborhood watch” vigilante George Zimmerman got out of his car after being told not to by a 911 operator, then proceeded to confront and start a fight with Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was returning to his father’s house after having bought a soft drink and a snack. Zimmerman then murdered Martin, killing him with pistol fire when Martin began to win the fight.
The murder of Martin produced outrage across the nation, and rightfully so. Many of those who were outraged began to research Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and found that it was passed at ALEC’s behest. The researchers then uncovered the fact that many other states had the exact same law, written the exact same way, and all of the legislatures that passed this law did so at ALEC’s behest.
Two outcomes from this incident must have been most unwelcome for ALEC. The first was the publicity: ALEC dislikes publicity and scurries away from it just as cockroaches scurry away when exposed. The second outcome was that many of ALEC’s corporate sponsors withdrew their sponsorship (PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, McDonalds, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, etc.). However, it is unfortunate but true that ALEC is not dead yet.
I happen to believe that corporations are not people and that the framers of our Constitution never intended, nor foresaw, that corporations would become as powerful as they have, which is why corporations are not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.
The series of events which led to the installation of judges who were (and are) paid whores for corporate interests (today they call themselves “Federalists”) and conferred personhood on corporations is too long to detail here. Suffice it to say that one has only to look at the restrictions on corporations that were in place in the early days of our republic to know that if the Founding Fathers had known what was to come, they would have prevented it with identical restrictions on corporations to what the states then had.
Republican Senator and 2008 nominee for President John McCain has called our system of campaign finance “legalized bribery.” Those legislators who vote for the bills that ALEC’s lobbyists have written for them can expect to receive bribes in the form of campaign contributions from corporations.
The only way to transform the government in Columbus into a democracy from the whoredom which exists there now is for the 90 percent who are disadvantaged by ALEC’s policies to start voting their pocketbooks.
Paul Schwietering is a former Democratic state central committeeman for the 14th state senate district.