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The Embarrassed Republican: All Politics is Local

ALEC comes home to Morris county, and no matter how much "free market" capitalism is involved, Republicans are getting tired of the "What's that on your tie" trick.

This has been an interesting couple of weeks for Republicans, especially around here.  To any of us who didn’t know who or what ALEC (American Legislative Exchange council) was, we do now.  This small band of legislation crafters has been working tirelessly for years and years, carefully penning “Pro-Business” legislation to be submitted by sympathetic local lawmakers in every state.  Kind of a ground-up approach for business-minded conservatives and a really clever one too.  If the Federal government won’t play ball, go to the states.

Once backed by over 300 of the biggest US companies, the self-styled “Free market policy group” is feeling the wind of exposure on its “nibbly-bits.”  When it came out that the “Stand your ground” laws (AKA - shoot first, arrange bodies later) was one of their finest products, there was a noticeable thinning in the ranks of supporters.  It’s ok, you can read that as stampede to the hide behind the curtains.  Frankly, I’m still wondering how “Stand your ground” laws are pro-free market?  

Maybe I can ask our very own assemblyman and Morris Plains resident Jay Webber who is the New Jersey state co-chair for ALEC.  Assemblyman Webber has introduced several bills in his tenure that bear a significant resemblance to ALEC-crafted bills presented in other states.  It’s really just a few words here and there, perhaps including a relevant passage or two. However, it’s important to note that legislation is often crafted by interested parties, lobbying groups, or is the product of successful efforts in other states and this practice is not illegal.  Although, I wonder if that feels a little like being asked to take a huge and luxurious ship out of the harbor, only to find out you’ve been named co-captain of the Titanic. 

That’s been happening a lot for the past few years, in the same way that Republicans are always the ones to deliver the ALEC-crafted bills to the legislatures,  they are also the ones who end up taking the bullet.  We never seem to figure out that when the “smart money” holds up the football and says “Go long....”, they wont be there when we get back.  I feel rather bad for Mr. Webber and I hope he has his “nibbly bits” well covered.

He’s in good company though, another local resident, our Governor (once a lobbyist himself) could be under some scrutiny for his own ALEC-like phrasing.  However, right now he’s busy brushing off accusations from Senator “attack dog” Lautenberg.  It seems Frank wanted to check the numbers quoted by the Honorable Mr. Christie when the ARC tunnel project got cancelled. Those sticklers at the GAO felt that "70% of the cost" was not enough like the actual 14% to get an "A" in accountability.  Well, you know, that’s all just “math” and if you don’t get it exactly right, you still get points for neatness.  Besides we’ll have plenty of time to work it out during our daily commute.  It’ll help pass the time while we’re standing all the way home from Penn Station for the next 10 years.

Much the same thing is happening with our “Conservative” media knight-in-shining-armor, Fox news.  Now that Mitt “Mr. Flexible” Romney is the man, the other candidates and everything they stood for have mostly given up waiting for the pass out in the high weeds and darkening twilight. Except Newt (no surprise there), who’s desperately hanging on to his Secret service detail and Herman who offered to give Michelle a ride home.  It’s over guys, and Michelle, keep your eyes on his hands!

As one commenter pointed out last week “...The division within the republican party is so large now that at times it seems bigger than the one between the two parties....”   Who can blame a large part of the party getting tired of always being the fall guy?  It's tiring being a sucker.  If you have trouble with that, don’t worry, just take a look at the “2012 Presidential platform survey” that just arrived.  All the familiar hot-button chestnuts are there.

“Do you intend to stand by while the President enacts radical leftist, anti-business, pro-muslim polices that call for all your children to be sold to Chinese atheists?” 

Next to that question is a box marked “Yes, I am a traitor to God and my country” and one marked “No sirree bob! Please accept my donation of $500.”


Here's a good piece on ALEC and NJ bills on NJ.com

ALEC model bills used in NJ Legislation 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joe raich April 22, 2012 at 08:49 PM
ALEC exposure is real, it just might be the reason why the 1% refuse to create jobs, finance and promote the Republican party, denegrate and live to destroy programs that would make a real difference. Perhaps well meaning people can give up dogma and fight for progressive change.
Al Iervolino April 22, 2012 at 10:21 PM
prentiss, i think your next post should be on moveon.org so you can educate the patch readers about who is behind them and their agenda.
Prentiss Gray April 23, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I think that's a really good idea, thanks. But let's widen the scope a bit, If I went through each and every populist/political organization individually I'd still be working on it in my urn (Read: Flaming Viking ship drifting gloriously into the sunset).
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