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The new year has started and along with it comes a season of ALEC meetings.

Why does it start now - for me?

Many of you may not be aware – because it is never spoken about –
the first action/protest against the American Legislative Exchange Council started HERE on DK for their April meeting in 2011 - was organized in a diary on DK.  Never before had there been a protest again ALEC.

Without that protest there would have been no whistleblower – there would have been no document drop of legislation – there would have been no ALECExposed webpage at the Center for Media and Democracy.

HERE at DK is where it all started and I think it is necessary to give credit where credit is due to the whole DK Exposing ALEC group and the many activists and activist groups that participated in the successful 2011 Cincinnati ALEC action, an action that started HERE on Daily Kos.

In 2014 I want to protest at every ALEC event across the United States – but how the event is organized will determine whether I spend my money to attend.

We are all aware of the destruction that ALEC “model legislation” is causing in our country.  I don’t need to reiterate the many instances.  We should all be aware of the fact that ALEC legislators across the US in the state and federal governments are sponsoring and promoting ALEC legislation.  

ALEC is a national problem – that needs a national solution.

That being said – I am not one to look backward – I need to look forward.  

I would like 2014 to be the year that we recognize that in the battle against ALEC there have to be more and many/ varied voices that are heard and listened to, in order for the movement to progress.  

I would like 2014 to be the year where we realize that there are many roles and many voices that are needed in order to stop the destruction being caused by ALEC in the USA.

Many Voices, Different Voices
(First, and up front - this is not about bashing the nonprofits.  I am only sharing what I have seen as a evolving pattern.  Hoping for change)

    Center for Media and Democracy
    Common Cause
    Color of Change
All of these are nonprofit agencies that report to a Board of Directors and rely on corporate funders to continue their work.  They have made significant contributions with online actions and public discourse regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council– BUT, they are restricted in their communications - by their business structure.  The politics of running/maintaining a nonprofit organization requires them to maintain a “political/public” posture that does not include actively promoting protests/direct actions.  If you look at the actions of these nonprofits over the past 18 months –they have been mainly the “face” of the discourse, for the media. And that has been their role.

These organizations provide a public media face in the fight against ALEC.  They are the “publicly acceptable” guest speakers on MSM and training sessions across the US.  They do interviews, they write articles for the MSM.  They look the part, they speak the part – for the MSM.  
They inform – but they do not specifically make a call for “direct action”.  
They just don't and that has been their role.

The unions in the early days of the protests against ALEC - wanted nothing to do with the protests, and specifically the protestors.  They didn't want to be associated with the rag-tags and specifically the black-shirts. Sooooo - the unions did nothing, absolutely nothing.

That has changed.

Last year at OKC, Chicago, and Washington DC - the local union members pretty much took control of the protests - organized them and rallied the voices they wanted to show up to be heard.

Unfortunately, they don't want everybody's voice to be heard.  
The message they want to be heard - is organized, it's civilized and it does exactly what the organizers tell it to do.
They have a defined idea what "their rally" should look like.  
They still don't want to be associated with the rag-tags and specifically the black-shirts.

I love protesting with the  rag-tags and the black-shirts.  I love their lack of abandonment - I love their passion, I love their spirit.
I don't like attending union rallies.  I don't like being told what to yell, where to march or the peer-pressure to behave.

Last year in Chicago, I protested with the  rag-tags and the black-shirts on one day
the union people on the next.
The union rally was "awe inspiring" in group size - but not in passion.
The  rag-tags and the black-shirts were "awe inspiring in passion", but not in group size.
Both were okay - but I preferred being with the rag-tags and the black-shirts.

While the roles of the two different groups (unions/nonprofits - ragtags/blackshirts) may be mutually exclusive; the end game is the same.

In that sense, the actions of the nonprofits and the union officials can not and should not dictate the activities of other activists.  
Two different styles of message CAN coexist, because neither - repeat, neither - message should be considered better than the other.  

Both sets of voices are necessary
in order for the maximum amount of exposure to be achieved
and 2014 is the year to recognize that a many voices/many actions approach is appropriate.  
One group/concern should not control the message or the process.

In our society there is a tendency to convey deference to those who have a message that is considered "more civilized" and controlled.
Just because that has happened, does not mean it is correct or should happen.  

The voice of the citizen activist needs to be heard.

The voices of the young people need to be heard.

So where does the direct action come from?

In the mid 1990’s ALEC was brought to the attention of the U.S. people through a series of articles
– and nothing really happened –
but the cornerstone had been laid.

In the early 2000’s ALEC was again brought to the attention of the U.S. people through a series of reports and articles
 – and nothing really happened –
but the mortar needed to build the movement started to come together.

In 2011 a call for action against ALEC, was placed
– here on the pages of DK –
and things truly began to happen.

     Kansas City, MO
     Marriott Downtown
     Spring Task Force Meeting
     May 2

     Hilton Anatole Hotel
     41st Annual Meeting
     July 30 - Aug 1

     Washington DC (probably)
     States and Nation Summit
     Probably the first week of December

What I hope for
2013 was a historic year for ALEC.
   They started their city/county initiative, bringing ALEC evil to municipalities.
    Across the US you can find ALEC members,
    both public and private members - already sitting on County Boards

   They have created a 501c4, the Jeffersonian Project,
    to circumvent lobbying laws in the states.

We can't let 2014 be a historic year for ALEC.
My wish is that 2014 is a historic year for ALEC activists,
ALL ALEC activists
– the nonprofits
– the unions and
– the citizen activist.

Who in those cities is willing to stand up and fight for the voices of the public - by using their voices in public?

And - I hope to see you there!!!

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