Yesterday, Red Alert Politics published an editorial calling on conservatives to stand with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as it took heat from the media and from the left for supporting self-defense and voter ID laws.
Within hours, ALEC announced that it would be disbanding its Public Safety and Elections task force. According to the press release, the executive board made this decision last week.
Obviously we were too late.
ALEC’s announcement came after a deceitful barrage of attacks and a bully campaign from the Left targeting corporations that partner with ALEC. Many of these corporate sponsors withdrew their funding from the think-tank.
It’s not surprising that the Left pulled out all the stops on ALEC. What is surprising is that conservatives were largely unaware.
Why does this matter? Because most conservatives, including Red Alert Politics, hadn’t even heard of ALEC until last week.
ALEC’s decisions will have devastating implications.
With ALEC no longer advocating for the Castle Doctrine (also known as Stand Your Ground) – which stops homeowners from being convicted of murder for defending themselves against intruders – and Voter ID laws – which ensure the integrity of our voting process – the Left has won two huge legislative battles.
The Left had been on the ropes on both issues, especially Voter ID, for some time. Now, liberals are going to ride this wave and redouble their efforts to reverse many of conservative’s policy victories across the country.
Yes, ALEC folded, but who can blame it? It is a non-profit think tank that relies on donations from corporations whose bottom lines are not affected by either of these pieces of legislation. If ALEC were to let this situation continue to snowball, it would have lost the ability to fund the research and implementation of it’s other free-market, limited government policies. ALEC cut its losses.
The blame for this falls on us, the conservative movement. While we justifiably relished the demolition of Hilary Rosen over her ridiculous remarks about Ann Romney, the ALEC story flew under the radar.
It’s wonderful that the Right unified to defend presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s wife. But we allowed ourselves to be distracted by one of the Left’s phony “wars” once again. And this time it potentially cost the conservative movement years worth of work
Now, for the time being, ALEC is polarized. Any groups or persons associated with it will be drawn into this polarization. One of our greatest organizations of change on the state level was temporarily immobilized going into a major election year.
We on the Right have to do a little honest self-reflection. What battles have we actually won lately? We lost the Komen battle. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is now funding Planned Parenthood at the same levels as it was before. We lost the religious liberty battle. Instead, we played right into the Left’s War on Women meme. Now, we lost with ALEC battle.
We did end up on top in the Rush Limbaugh controversy, although that probably had more to do with his resilience than anything else.
Rosen? We managed to defame the Democratic spinmeister, but what noteworthy and long-lasting change occurred? She still has a job. She’s still going on CNN, and after the heat dies down, she will continue to advise the President and the Democratic National Committee.
We’re not saying she shouldn’t have been called out for her outrageous statement, just that there’s less long-term strategic significance to that win than a win on the ALEC catastrophe would have produced.
And that is the point. The Left targets issues that have strategic significance. Democrats would have lost a major cultural war to the Right if Komen had stood by its decision to end donations to Planned Parenthood.
And like him or not, Rush continues to open up countless minds to conservatism. Taking him down would have been a major win for the Left.
It is largely because of ALEC that so many states have recently implemented voter ID laws and the castle doctrine. ALEC retreating on this front is a big deal. While two-thirds of states now have Voter ID legislation on the books, the issue is far from dead.
If we’re being candid, conservatives have a few strategic problems.
First, half of us flee after the first shot is fired. The other half is then outflanked and overwhelmed. And when we do rally against something, it’s often strategically insignificant. Then, when we do win a battle, we act like we won the war and sit on our laurels.
What can we do in the future to avoid this?
While winning a hashtag war on our computer is fun and certainly bugs the left, we’re going to have to do a lot more. Our opponents are well funded. They have century old organizations, the mainstream media and a paid army in unions on their side.
The best defense is a good offense. Instead of running around putting out fires the Left sets among the Right, to distract us, do some well thought-out and cleverly implemented fire setting yourself,
Choose a significant target. The late Andrew Breitbart was a master at this. Rising liberal New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned and Republican Bob Turner won his seat. James O’Keefe’s activist videos have actually led to voter ID laws being written and implemented. O’Keefe is a fellow young conservative. These are strategically significant attacks.
Big fights are coming up soon in Wisconsin and an even bigger one is on the horizon in November. This time we better be ready, or we could pay the price for decades to come.