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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Lessons from the ‘Dump ALEC’ Campaign

The blogger Spocko at Hullabaloo has an informative read for those who were glad to see Google dump the Koch Brother’s wing nut wrecking ball, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As Spocko explains:

This is a big deal. It comes on the heels of a number of other corporations like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo! having left ALEC. These things don’t just happen magically. There are a lot of people who have worked very hard to make that happen.
… I think it’s important to acknowledge this success and see what we can learn from it. Like the actions used to get advertisers to leave Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and other RW radio hosts, part of this is educating sponsors and advertisers about the person or entity’s comments and actions so people can decide they don’t want to taint their brand with the association.
We often think that if we just give people the facts they will make the right decision. That does apply in some cases, especially when dealing with Vulcans. Other times we think people only make decisions to maximize revenue, and that’s true when dealing with Ferengi. But humans are more complex, and we need to look at and combine multiple methods to persuade, convince or pressure.

Spocko links to a list of organizations which were instrumental in persuading Google to bail from ALEC’s funding. Spocko goes on to reveal that ALEC’s opposition addressing climate change rubbed Google’s execs the wrong way and was probably hurting their image among socially-conscious young people who are concerned about the environment. In addition,

CEOs aren’t always the final decider, but when you can line up multiple reasons ranging from financial through emotional and into brand image they can be convinced to take a different course of action.
ALEC and Rush appeal to people’s most selfish impulses. They use greed, fear and ignorance to get what they want. They want us to believe that everyone thinks like they do, when in fact it is a self-selected minority that holds these beliefs. They say if you only believe them, you will be among society’s winners.
But when we go to the interested third parties and educate them, many of those real winners are disgusted with what they hear. Combining that education with appeals to both personal and stated corporate values systems and you have a solid package to help them decide to walk away.
If you want to convince people within the corporate form to walk away from a right wing media personality or a right wing legislation bill mill, learn who they are, what they say their company is about and ALL the things that they care about. We have lots of ways to find that out now, just Google them.

Good advice, certainly. There are numerous reasons for companies that seek a measure of social cred to back away from ALEC’s Kool-Aid. But let’s not assume that even large companies that support ALEC are all driven by an ardent wingnut perspective. Some are run by execs who are merely politically, well, low-information. They have to be educated about the destruction ALEC is wreaking on America. The coalition effort lead by Common Cause to meet this challenge is a great start, which merits more support from progressives.

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