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This Week: Beyond ALEC. PLUS: Toward May Day and a General Strike | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: Beyond ALEC. PLUS: Toward May Day and a General Strike

BEYOND ALEC. The successful campaign against the right-wing shadow lobbying group reached a new phase this week. The good government group Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that ALEC is violating its tax-exempt status by pushing “model legislation” designed to boost profits of its corporate membership. After The Nation and The Center for Media and Democracy published a trove of these model bills last summer, revealing the corporate driven legislative assault on labor, education and voting rights, a successful progressive counterforce has emerged that has led to the exit of fourteen of ALEC’s corporate members, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Intuit, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and most recently, the for-profit education firm Kaplan. Zaid Jilani also details the 28 lawmakers who have quit ALEC just this month. But as we note this week, the Exit ALEC movement must go beyond the group to confront the damage it has done. Thirty-four states have introduced and nine have have passed restrictive voter ID laws that disproportionately affect people of color, touting mythical allegations of rampant voter fraud. I told Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer this week, the great fraud is that we have been told voter fraud is a serious problem. We go around this world and preach democracy, when in fact we erect barriers that make it harder for people to vote. Instead, we need universal voter registration and same-day, election-day registration.

VOTING RIGHTS WATCH 2012. To help cast a vigilant eye on anti-democratic efforts, we’re delighted to announce a new partnership with Colorlines.com that will offer in-depth coverage of voter suppression efforts nationwide throughout the 2012 election season. “Voting Rights Watch 2012” will focus on the racial impact and dimensions of restrictive Voter ID laws, barriers faced by voter registration organizations, and efforts to “police the vote” and other intimidation tactics on Election Day. The project, led by Nation.com executive editor Richard Kim and Colorlines.com editorial director Kai Wright, will consist of on-the-ground reporting by New Orleans–based investigative journalist and Colorlines.com Voting Rights Fellow Brentin Mock, and will be co-published at TheNation.com and Colorines.com. Read Mock’s recent post, “People of Color Less Likely to Vote Because of SuperPAC Influence,” here.

MAY DAY AND IMAGINING A NEW GENERAL STRIKE. The Occupy Wall Street movement is planning a resurgence on May 1 (May Day) with calls for a “General Strike.” This day of resistance, reports Nation correspondent Allison Kilkenny, asks Americans to “stop offering their labor and money to corporations for one day and join their local Occupy chapter for a day of resistance.” Over 100 activist groups, labor unions and other progressive organizations have pledged to participate in rallies and marches in New York City and throughout the country. Be sure to follow The Nation’s live May Day coverage here. Colleague Peter Rothberg also offers up an important “Guide to May Day,” both its legacy and meaningful actions taking place around the country. Read that here. And check out The Nation’s May Day VideoNation series, Imagining a New General Strike, featuring Washington correspondent John Nichols, Marina Sitrin and Gayatri Spivak discussing the meaning and impact of a general strike in today’s global economy.

NATION ‘GUIDE TO MEANINGFUL ACTION. To better channel the outrage many feel after reading about abuses of power and privilege as well as the good intentions inspired by tales of positive social change, The Nation magazine has launched Take Action, a new weekly guide to meaningful action to connect readers with resources, activists and organizations working for change. Each week, this “Guide to Meaningful Action” will accompany one editorial, article or feature story and highlight one concrete step that readers can take to make their voice heard. There’ll also be a recommended reading suggestion and a single highlighted video to forge greater understanding and make it easy for readers to share resources on a variety of platforms. Recent Nation Take Action campaigns have urged readers to help blow the whistle on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), help Gulf residents reclaim their lives two-years after the disastrous BP oil spill; pass the Rebuild America Act; free imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye; and demand a federal probe into the NYPD’s spying on Muslims.

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