UPDATED 4/18: Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the 11th corporation to announce its withdrawal from ALEC. In the meantime, the shadowy organization is fighting media fire with media fire by calling a powwow with the right-wing bloggers at Breitbart TV. As Cynematic pointed out on today’s MOMocrats podcast, this is NOT the time to let up on ALEC’s corporate sponsors. PLEASE SIGN AND FORWARD OUR PETITION urging Procter and Gamble to do the right thing.
UPDATED: ALEC announced today that it is closing its task force behind Voter ID and gun laws – this is no doubt due to the exodus of corporate sponsors. But the organization still pursues anti-family policies like repealing laws that protect workers (i.e., minimum wage, paid sick days, etc), privatizing public land, fighting environmental regulation, requiring a super-majority to raise taxes and privatizing education.
The MOMocrats have authored a petition urging Procter & Gamble to withdraw from ALEC — a corporate-funded, right-wing policy organization that has usurped the legislative responsibility for writing the law, and is behind legislation like the Stand Your Ground law that’s been in the news since the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
“You were never this obsessed with politics,” my husband complains.
He’s right. While I’ve always been somewhat of a news junkie, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what the government was doing when I was younger. I was busy trying to get ahead in the world. And even if I didn’t disagree with the people in power (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush) or the policies they pursued, or the judges they appointed, I had faith that the balance of power built into our Constitution would keep everything in check.
I KNEW that civil rights, once won, could not be revoked. I KNEW that as a Jewish person, I didn’t have to be subjected to Christian dogma in the classroom, because our Constitution guaranteed a separation of church and state, and I appreciated that. I KNEW that the reason the United States was the Land of Opportunity was because we were guaranteed a terrific, free public education and affordable access to higher learning at first-class public universities. I KNEW that if I became ill or disabled, that there was a social safety net to keep me from destitution. And I KNEW that our economy was stable and strong and afforded opportunity for all.
I was wrong. Not about the balance of power, which worked fine for a long, long time. But behind the scenes, wealthy and powerful people with a sinister agenda were busy undermining everything that made it possible for a large middle class to enjoy a comfortable existence. And gradually, bit by bit, everything that was great about this country was chipped away until we found ourselves in crisis. Concepts that were considered “crackpot ideas” when I was in my 20’s are now mainstream. Civil rights are being rolled back in states around the country. Public schools are being starved of funding at the expense of private institutions, and science is being forced out of the curriculum.
How did this happen? And why is it so hard to fight it? Am I really so out of step with the rest of the nation — do my fellow Americans really support what seems like a rollback to 19th Century policies?
I’ve always been aware of the politics of my own state of California, but was never focused on what was happening in the other 49 states until 2008, when I became a member of the MOMocrats. I now had politically active friends living throughout the country, and what they were telling me was disturbing. We tracked the evolution of assaults on voters’ rights in real time, as Tea Party legislators introduced bills throughout the country, making voting ever more difficult for students, disabled people, people of color and senior citizens.
And the most striking element was how similar they all were. The reason: All originated as model bills written by ALEC and disseminated to the organization’s conservative lawmaker members.
For example: In 2009, Arizona state senator Russell Pearce presented the bill that would become the state’s infamous illegal immigration law at an ALEC conference. Once it passed in Arizona, similar legislation was introduced in 35 other states.
ALEC bills itself as a “non-partisan” organization, devoted to “free markets” and “federalism.” So why is it actively seeking to disenfranchise millions of citizens from exercising their basic democratic rights? Or pushing laws that allow gun owners to get away with murder?
Ninety-eight percent of ALEC’s funding comes from big name corporations, but thanks to a campaigns launched by activists at organizations like ColorofChange.org, they’ve lost a few: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kraft Foods and the Gates Foundation have all withdrawn their support in the last few weeks. But their membership roster still includes a lot of household names, such as AT&T, Bayer, Exxon/Mobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, PhRMA, UPS and Wal-Mart.
Seeing Procter and Gamble listed as a member is especially vexing, precisely because P&G has always marketed its household products to women. For years, I’ve been receiving a P&G email called Home Made Simple, chock-full of time-saving household hints and recipes that aim to make my life easier (while using P&G products).
I was shocked at exactly how much I spend on P&G in my own home. I knew about the Tide detergent, Downy fabric softener, Dawn dish washing liquid, Bounty towels, Charmin tissue and Febreze air freshener. But Tampax and Always are also household essentials (and P&G brands). We brush our teeth with Crest on Oral-B toothbrushes. We shave with Gillette razors. I wash my face with Olay cleanser and top it off with Oil of Olay moisturizer.
And P&G practically owns the supermarket hair care aisle: Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Sebastian, Herbal Essence, Wella, Aussie, Pert and Clairol are all made by Procter and Gamble.,
Yes, Procter and Gamble knows its market. Back in the days when broadcasting meant radio, they sponsored many a serialized daytime drama (hence, the term “soap opera”). And today, they’ve been especially savvy in their support of blogs, through advertising and sponsorship of events like the annual BlogHer conference. I’ve carried their ads on my personal blog and have appreciated their support.
But their family-friendly image does not mesh with the knowledge that they help underwrite an organization that is undermining our most basic American rights.
Donna Schwartz Mills usually keeps her rants about household products at her personal site, SoCalMom.