by Jim Lane
DALLAS -- "It's like realizing there's a skunk under your house," is how Texas humorist Jim Hightower explained discovering the American Legislative Exchange Council to 500 protestors on July 30. They had come from as far away as Washington DC and California to help expose the rightwing lobbying organization responsible for initiating and financing anti-union, privatization, racist, and anti-democratic state legislation throughout the nation.
Hightower and other speakers hailed the growing progressive coalitions who have opposed ALEC in every city where they appear since they were exposed during the "Occupy" movement and especially hated since ALEC sponsored racist "Stand Your Ground" laws in several states. Dallas activists organized for several months. They began as soon as they learned that ALEC would hold its national convention at the posh Anatole Hotel here.
The Dallas AFL-CIO led the coalition. Church, civil rights, retiree, and community organizations pitched in. Some of the participants opined that it was Dallas' first major labor-led coalition protest in half a century! Principal officer Mark York encouraged everyone to sign up to join labor's electoral effort this Fall.
The fact that rightwingers are attempting to privatize the entire Dallas Independent School District added special heat to the anger against ALEC, because ALEC champions the corporate drive to privatize all forms of economic activity.
The protest began with a short organizing meeting at the Community Brewery, just about a mile from the Anatole Hotel. Participants took shuttle buses to the Anatole where they covered both sides of the street. Steelworkers had brought an inflatable pink pig that was at least 25 feet tall! Then they returned to the brewery building and heard experts from all over the country explain exactly how ALEC carries out its sordid business. The best source of information, they agreed, is www.alecexposed.org.
Jim Hightower told them that it is "...no longer enough to be PROgressive." He said, "It's time to be Agressive!"