From its own mission statement, the American Legislative Exchange Council exists to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.”
Thomas Jefferson’s name is often invoked by the ultra right to defend their positions, and ALEC’s case is typical. As one of the fifty five signers of the US Constitution and a man credited, with James Madison, as having composed much of it, his opinions are elevated to the sacred. However, Jefferson was only one of fifty five signers of the Constitution, a document composed by consensus, and ratified by the People, after having been persuaded to do so by the Federalist Papers.
Prior to the Constitution, the fledgling country, the United States, was composed of thirteen independent states, loosely and ineffectively united by the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation was an accord among the former colonies which legally established the United States of America as a nation. It was drafted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and was formally ratified in 1781. The Articles granted legitimacy for the Continental Congress to direct the Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with European nations, and deal with territorial and Native American issues. However, the confederation government proved to be too weak and disunified, and in 1789 it was replaced with a federal government by the enactment of the Constitution. Not all of the founders of the United States were in favor of a strong federal government. Those in favor were the ‘federalists’. Those opposed were the ‘anti-federalists’. The former group included men such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the authors of The Federalist Papers. The ‘anti-federalists’ included Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, George Clinton, and George Mason, after whom George Mason University, a school deeply infused with libertarian philosophy is named. Samuel Adams and George Clinton signed the US Constitution. It has been argued that Thomas Jefferson expressed many anti-federalist positions, but his involvement in the disagreement between federalists and anti-federalists was limited, due to his being stationed as Ambassador to France during the melee between the two groups. As already noted, Jefferson was one of fifty five signers, and considered to have been, with Madison, one of the authors of the document.
Most historians would consider ‘Jeffersonian principles of federalism’ to be a misnomer. As noted, Jefferson was unable to actively participate in the ‘federalist versus anti-federalist’ debate, but, as evidenced by much of his writings, was hardly in the same camp as Alexander Hamilton. The concept of limited government as a goal of the signers of the Constitution is a mythos. Indeed, Jefferson often is quoted as writing such phrases as, “That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves. If we are directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we will soon want for bread.” Again, Jefferson’s was only one of fifty five voices, and was eventually drowned out by that of Alexander Hamilton. The issue of free trade was between the individual states, not with foreign countries. Hamilton established a system of tariffs, which profited the United States and were so effective, that they were only dismantled during the Reagan administration. Hamilton’s principles, successful for decades, can be seen as an antithesis to Milton Friedman’s system of economics. Despite the ‘Founding Fathers’ mythos, the beginning of the United States was far more complicated than revisionist historians would present, and involved many more men than only Thomas Jefferson.
Another name for a ‘public-private partnership’ is fascism. Mussolini’s own definition of fascism is a melding of the interests of the state with those of business. We have seen such ‘meldings’ before in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet bloc. Where do these ideas originate?
ALEC is linked to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which takes its name from a pseudonym in a series of letters to the New York Journal in 1787 and 1788 opposing federalist views and urging against ratification of the U.S. Constitution. ALEC is diametrically opposed to the governmental structure established by the US Constitution. ALEC is a part of a clandestine network created by Charles and David Koch, sons of Fred C. Koch, who co-founded the John Birch Society. From the profits of Koch Industries and its subsidiaries, the two billionaire brothers fund myriads right-wing public policy foundations. David Koch is currently a member of the Cato Institute’s board of directors, and a trustee of The Reason Foundation, a libertarian public policy institute and prominent ALEC member that promotes the privatization of government. He also directs Americans for Prosperity, operated by Dick Armey, spearheading the TEA party.
Therefore, ALEC is another Koch brothers’ machination, falsely claiming sacred historical principles as their basis, determined to undermine the federal system of government, as supported by the US Constitution, and foment the purulent designs of the McCarthyist John Birch Society upon state government, in another attempt to disrupt American liberty. They are hopeful for and confident in the ignorance of the American People of their own history to accomplish these goals, and that the American People will ‘exchange’ their freedom for a Koch brothers’ yoke.
- US Congress is failing, it needs reform if it’s to succeed (politicsontoast.com)
- The Ratification Debate Part Three (dakotavoice.com)
- From crisis to closer union: the eurozone’s US precedent (guardian.co.uk)
- Museum Review: Alexander Hamilton’s Renovated Grange – Review (nytimes.com)
- Disenfranchisement: The Real American Dream. (tinfoilhatman45.wordpress.com)