by Dave Bradley
One of the things that galls me most about Republicans is that at the top of their party is unelected individuals and groups who set the tone, make the policies and create the environment for politics not only in their party but through extension of the media, the whole country.
Let me name names right off the bat: Grover Norquist who holds a huge hammer of fear over Republican elected officials. This hammer has such power that one could easily say that Mr. Norquist by himself has 40 votes in the US Senate. Lot of power for an unelected individual.
Also on the list are the billionaire business owners who seem to be something of an oligarchy elected by accumulation of capital. No one ever voted for the Koch brothers, the Walton family, the Mellons, the DeVos family and on and on. Yet these people through the power of their checkbook are able to make Republican politicians at the national, state and local levels dance like marionettes. Has a one ever been elected? No, but then they don’t have to when they own those that are elected.
Next are the think tanks and policy groups that are created and funded by right wing money. This is a long list. Many are names that have some public recognition, but many don’t. Names like the Heritage Foundation, or the Manhattan Institute are names of think tanks you probably recognize.
But recently names of once unknown groups have been popping up in the news and seem to have come from nowhere, yet wield an inordinate amount of power. These behind the curtain groups are currently writing our laws at state and federal level. Laws that radically change our society, such as whether unions can negotiate, and who is eligible to vote. The first of these groups that come to mind is ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Once again, unelected groups working out of the light to radically influence policy and therefore our lives.
Let us briefly mention the evangelicals that head up the right wing mega churches. Without huge congregations being told to vote Republican, there may not be the Republican officials to do the bidding of the powers mentioned above.
Finally, a brief mention will go to the right wing talking heads. While many like to believe that Rush Limbaugh is a wielder of power, his influence lies in being a disseminator of (often twisted) talking points. He also acts as a person who is accepted as main stream to which people can attach the claim that their fringe beliefs are normal. Since Rush (and to a lesser degree Hannity and the other Rush wannabes) work somewhat in the light, they are tempered, if only slightly.
In Iowa, we have some small state version of these big time players. Despite being rejected by his own party on numerous occasion, Bob Vander Plaats can make Republicans dance to his music, especially after getting 3 Supreme Court judges removed from the bench. In the more traditional behind the curtains string pulling we have Iowa Family policy’s Chuck Hurley and conservative organizer Bill Salier.
Here is the point: working behind curtains, in the dark (under rocks some might say) we have unelected, unregulated groups that elected Republican Party officeholders receive their marching instructions from. If an elected official bucks these groups, if they do not do as told there will be consequences: their campaign funds dry up and they will be primaried.
There are many examples of former Republican elected officials to prove this is not an idle threat.
[Editor’s Note: See Dave Bradley’s previous articles on ALEC: Is Your Republican State Legislator a Member of ALEC? and McTaxcuts – Shock Doctrine, ALEC and Iowa]
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Dave Bradley is a self-described
retired observer of American politics “trying to figure out how we got
so screwed up.” An
Iowa City native currently living in West Liberty, Dave and his wife
Carol have two grown children who “sadly had to leave the state to find
decent paying jobs.”