Letter to the Editor: An Attempt to Drive Free-Market Voices From the Field

Letter to the Editor: An Attempt to Drive Free-Market Voices From the Field

April 25, 2012
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal

The attack on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is part of a broader attack by those seeking to drive all market voices from the marketplace of ideas. ("Shutting Down ALEC," Review & Outlook, April 18). As the Founders realized, "factions"—what we now call "special interests"—are an unavoidable aspect of democracy. The Founders' solution was not to suppress factions, but to "set faction against faction" to ensure vigorous debate. The attack on ALEC runs counter to that spirit. It is a concerted effort to silence one faction by driving productive economic voices from the policy debate.

When businesses seek to expose and reduce the harmful consequences of capricious legislation, that is both their right and good for democracy. When market voices are excluded from the policy debate, the only voices left are those motivated purely by ideology. And as history shows, the greatest harm to nations comes from ideologues who believe they know what's best for everybody.

Our Founders gave us a system based on the battle of ideas. If critics of the free market believe they have a strong case, they should seek to win that battle openly, rather than by silencing the opposition through intimidation. What ALEC's opponents seek is nothing less than the sabotage of democracy. It is especially unfortunate when businesses retreat from backing free-market groups like ALEC when they come under pressure. America needs more CEOs willing to stand up for free enterprise. Readers who agree should let those CEOs know now.