ALEC – AirBNB Joins Anti-Israel BDS Movement: Why are good legislators better than good laws? What is ALEC and what do they do? What should we do about the recent anti-Semitic sentiments of AirBNB? How can free market values be used to correct this? Join in now for the answers to these questions and more!

Air Date: 12/24/2018

Guest: Phil King & Bill Meirerling

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we”€™re talking about today”€™s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. All of it from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton”€™s with us, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator, national speaker, and author.

Visit WallBuildersLive.com for more information about our program and you can actually get archives of the program from the last few weeks and months. And then also visit WallBuilders.com, that’s our main website with a lot of great information and tools for you to equip and inspire your family to be better citizens, to not just enjoy the blessings of liberty, but also accept the burden that comes with that. And to do your part to help preserve this nation, and to preserve these principles that we love, and to preserve this constitutional republic. Check it all out it WallBuilders.com.

While you’re there, please consider becoming a partner of the program. You can simply donate one time or make a monthly commitment to donate. Those donations from our listeners – that’s what supports this program and makes it possible. It also allows us to do our youth leadership programs, and our pastors briefings in Washington D.C., our legislators programs, develop new information, and get it out there to more and more people. That all is made possible by your donations. So, I really encourage you to do that. You’ll be supporting a good cause and helping to restore America’s constitution.

David, Tim, we’ve got Phil King coming on with us later in the program. He’s actually your state representative. You guys have known him, I guess maybe longer than me. I came in with Phil to the Texas legislature. We were freshmen together, but I’m assuming you guys were supporting him before I even met.

Recruiting Legislators

Tim:

Well, I know my dad was recruiting him to be part of the state legislature here in Texas. Rick:

Did I just age you, Tim?  

Tim:

Well, so, I was around, I think. I mean, I was alive, I know that. But I don”€™t remember if I was in high school or college. I don”€™t remember when Phil entered. But really, I’ve gotten to know Phil over the last 15 years give or take. But, dad, I know you, when you were helping run the Republican Party of Texas, he was somebody noticed and thought, “€œWe need a guy with his values, his character, to be part of the legislative body in Texas.

David:

Well, to show you that I am fallible and make mistakes, I also recruited Rick Green to run, so–

Tim:

Oh man, weah. Well, you can’t win them all, right?  

Rick:

Hey, if we were the only two you’d be 50/50, but you recruited a lot more than us.

David:

Well, we recruited a great crop of freshmen legislators – Rick, and Phil, and others. And we specifically recruited them because we wanted a different voting record. At the time that we were helping run the party, there were six different groups in Texas that kept up with voting records, six conservative groups. And we watched, an average Republican was getting about a 72 percent voting record which is a C, which is mediocre, which is not good. And we realized at that point, you know, if you want better votes and want better policy, you need different people in. You can take people who are squishy and moderate and expect them to act conservative.

If You Want to Change Policy”€¦

David:

So, that’s where we’ve started recruiting freshmen. And I remember that after Phil came out and after Rick came in in that freshman class, the average ranking of the freshman class on the voting records was 90 percent versus 72 percent overall. So, we bumped it up 20 points just by going after good guys like Rick and Phil. And that was where we really learned a lesson that if you want to change policy change the people who make the policy.

Tim:

Well, yeah, that’s really no surprise, at least at this point looking back, right. It”€™s kind of an armchair quarterback, but that”€™s what history is all about. When you study history, you realize that the good people are better than good laws. I think even the Founding Fathers pointed out, right–

David:

William Penn pointed that out.

Tim:

Right.– that although good laws, that’s a positive thing, good men are better because good laws might not be followed, right? But good men can correct bad laws is kind of what William Penn pointed out. but the Founding Fathers recognize that you have to have people who have character that are in office.

And, actually, I think Charles Finney, who was one of the major leaders in the Second Great Awakening, he was a pastor. Actually, his story is really cool. He was a not a believer, he wanted to become a lawyer. In law school he was reading these law books and they were talking about the basis of law and how much of law was based on the Bible. So, in reading law books he began reading all these Bible verses upon which law was based. He ends up becoming a Christian and gets saved studying law.

David:

That’s exactly what happened to Rick Green at the University of Texas Law School.

Rick:

Tim:

Rick, did you all study the Bible to understand that the basis of law in the Western Hemisphere at Texas or was it different?

Rick:

I don”€™t think I was allowed to have a Bible at University of Texas it was that bad.

One of the Most Significant Things

Tim:

Oh, so you all didn’t cover the First Amendment when you were at the University of Texas? That’s probably a different course, okay, that was later. By Charles Finney, right, he becomes a Christian, is a major leader and Second Great Awakening, and his challenge to Christians was, “€œLook, if your government has become corrupt, if your politics are no good, it”€™s because you have not gotten involved and part of being involved was not getting good people to represent you in the legislature.”€

We could go through literally dozens if not hundreds of quotes from significant leaders in American history that point out having people of character is one of the most significant things when it comes to a nation. And, it’s because those people of character will help ensure that you have the right kind of values when it comes to the laws and the way that you operate as a nation.

So, back up, Phil King is one of those great guys who’s been helping do that in Texas for a long time. But not only has he been an influencer in Texas, he actually was a leader of an organization called ALEC. Which, dad, the acronym ALEC, help me out–

David:

American Legislative Exchange Council.

Tim:

Okay. So, it’s a conservative network and not necessarily religious, although, oftentimes conservatives tend to be more religious, or more Bible based, just statistically, so there’s a lot of conservative legislators. He was actually a leader of ALEC for a while and he”€™s still part of the group.

David:

Yeah, he was the national leader of ALEC, which is one fourth of the legislators in the nation. I think, what is it, Rick, about 4500 legislators in that group? Somewhere in there, there abouts, as I recall.

Getting the Background

Rick:

It’s a lot and Phil’s been very influential. And I did want to just jump in real quick and add – for people to get a context on who this guy is and the impact that he’s had, virtually every piece of pro-life legislation that”€™s passed in the last 20 years in Texas has had his fingerprints all over it. Including the first one that passed while I was there our freshman year. He was asked to step in and lead on it and did a phenomenal job. That was parental notification back then. He’s just that kind of guy. He’s very, very, effective at this process.  

So, ALEC really became a place where he could have a national influence because those legislators from every state all across the country would come together and exchange ideas. Phil ended up helping to run the whole thing. It”€™s still very, very, effective even now.

David:

And what ALEC does, among other things, they really focus on free market, free enterprise competition, and all sorts of areas. And one of the places where we have seen the free market come to bear recently is with AirBNB which came out with a very anti-Semitic position against Israel in favor of the Palestinians against Jews. Even penalizing Israel through what’s called BDS or Boycott, Divestiture, Sanctions.

So, with that position, ALEC and state legislators, they said, “€œWell, we can weigh on this. We think the free market is really good. And, as a result, the free market can be used to tell AirBNB that what they’ve done is not a good deal.”€ So, it’s significant the story of what happened with ALEC, and legislators, and what happened when a bunch of conservative legislators got together and decided to stand up for the free market. Particularly, when it’s been an anti-Semitic attack, the free market can respond to that very successfully.

Rick:

Well, stay with us folks. Phil King will be with us when we return. You’re listening WallBuilders Live.

This Precarious Moment Book

David:

This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.

Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.

These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.

America”€™s History

This is David Barton with another moment from America”€™s history. Around 1790 the infamous Thomas Paine wrote his age of reason attacking religion and Christianity. Interestingly, one of the strongest defenders against Payne’s attack was Benjamin Franklin.

In fact, he stiffly rebuked and told him, “€œHe that spits in the wind spits in his own face. Do you imagine any good would be done by this attack against religion. Think how great a portion of mankind consists of youth who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from violence to support their virtue. I would advise you not to attempt unchaining the tiger but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person. If men are so wicked with religion what would they be if without it?”€

Benjamin Franklin believed that the practice of religion was one of the greatest assets of American society. For more information on God’s hand in American history. Contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.

Rick:

Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Our good friend, State Representative Phil King, back with us. Phil, thanks for coming on, man.

Phil King:

Oh, it”€™s good to talk, Rick.

Rick:

Hey, you are very involved with with ALEC. In fact, served as the national chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council. We were talking about some of the things that they are doing, but also want to introduce our second guest with us – Bill Meirerling, thanks for coming on with us. You’ve been with ALEC for several years and serve as the chief marketing officer and executive V.P. of external relations. That’s a long title. How do you get that on the wall or the door?

Bill Meirerling:

Pick one title and run with it.

What Is the Purpose?

Rick:

Gotcha. Gotcha. Alright, man, well thanks for your time and coming on.

Tell us real quick just a little bit about ALEC. What is the purpose of bringing these state legislators together around the country? What are you guys try to accomplish? Then we”€™ll dive into our specific topics for the day.

Phil King:

Rick, ALEC is a 45 year old organization of legislators and private business. It was put together as a– with the objective of trying to bring policy makers from across the country, state legislators, into the same room as the job creators, the businesses, to look for best practices and government, to look for innovation for new ideas, to try to make state government more efficient, better in supporting freedom, and free markets, and individual liberty, and small government, and all the things that make the states and America great.

We, again, have been around about 45 years. About 25 percent of all the legislators in the country are a member of ALEC. And then we have private sector members, businesses, business associations, and others from across the country.

So, that’s what ALEC does. It’s a large organization. It’s very, very, effective. If you look at a lot of major initiatives that have happened over the last 45 years, a lot of times you’ll find that they had their genesis in ALEC. ALEC found a great idea being done in the state of Texas, or in the state of Florida, helped work that, promoted that to the states.

Or you’ll find something that actually was developed as an original idea in ALEC in this cooperative environment between the legislators and business. And that idea would be taken out and pushed across the states. So, a very successful organization and with a long history.

Bill Meirerling:

If I could add, Rick, everything that Representative King said is dead on what ALEC does. It brings legislators together to share good ideas and not repeat the mistakes of others. Something that is said oftentimes at ALEC is, “€œNo one has a monopoly on good ideas and why reinvent the wheel?”€

If there’s a good policy in one state that is bringing opportunity to the citizens of that state. Sure, it might need some tweaks to go to another state, but if it’s making people successful and helping them lead better lives in state one then it might work in state two. Similarly, if it didn’t work in a state, why would another legislator from a different state want to try and do that same thing? That, in fact, is the definition of insanity.

Rick:

Right.

Let”€™s Look at an Example

Bill Meirerling:

ALEC brings people together and makes great things happen. I’ll give you just one example and then I’ll get off my soapbox. In 1989, the first education funding voucher bill was introduced in the country. It was introduced in Wisconsin by a bipartisan group of ALEC member legislators. It was passed and signed into law by an ALEC alumnus, then governor of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. The next year it was introduced in 45 states all by ALEC legislators.

Rick:

Wow.

Bill Meirerling:

The same can be said for tort reform and criminal justice reform following the Texas and South Dakota models. The same can be said for so many other things that are increasing economic security and helping moms and dads take care of their families in states around the country.

Rick:

Well, in addition to the long term solutions, and actually legislation, and that sort of thing, you guys also are pretty quick to jump in on issues. In fact, one that you just sent a letter out is on AirBNB actually adopting this BDS deal against Israel and boycotting Israel. And you guys have immediately responded to this.

Tell us a little bit about what brought this about, how you become aware of it, and then what do you hope to happen as a result of your letter to AirBNB.

AirBNB and BDS

Phil King:

Well, Texas and a number of other states, I think it’s up over 20 now, have passed legislation that prohibits state tax dollars from being used in an economic boycott, economic warfare, against Israel. In Texas, I can tell you, we have the strongest anti Boycott Divestment Sanction, anti-BDS law in the country. Israel is our fourth largest trading partner. Not only do we have strong cultural attachments to them through the Judeo Christian connection, but we also do a lot of business with them. So, we were very opposed to tax dollars being used by companies to boycott.

So, recently, AirBNB announced that they would no longer sponsor, no longer service, * or any rental properties that were in the West Bank, which is,historically, Judea and Samaria in Israel.

And ALEC came together very quickly, and in the scope of seven days, put together a letter to AirBNB, got legislators, I think around 150, if I remember, legislators from 38 states put together a letter that simply said, “€œLook, what you’re doing is wrong. Here’s why it’s wrong.”€ And asking them to withdraw that decision. And, Bill, how many signatures did we ultimately get in just a seven day period?

Bill Meirerling:

I’m glad that you said 150 legislators in 38 states because we’re up to 165 legislators in 41 states.

Rick:

Wow.

Bill Meirerling:

The more legislators that find out about it, the more they want to sign on because this is about free and fair business practices, this is about standing up for justice, this is about free and fair business practices and just allowing the free market to work.

Sticking With HomeAway for Now

Rick:

I would assume, I don’t know if either you have any idea on this, but I would assume most of AirBNB”€™s revenue dollars probably occur in the U.S.. So, if you’ve got legislators from all over the U.S. saying to AirBNB, “€œLook, this is a bad practice.”€, hopefully that gets their attention. And we want our listeners to step up and pay some attention here as well. Ton of our listeners use AirBNB and HomeAway and, frankly, until they change this policy I would recommend folks only use HomeAway and let AirBNB know why you’re doing that.

What kind of response have you gotten so far? I assume it’s short notice at this point, but–

Phil King:

Well, I can tell you I got a call a little bit ago, just a few minutes ago, that said that AirBNB had backed off and withdrawn their decision.

Rick:

Really?

Phil King:

Yes. Right after I got a second call that said there’s a little confusion in whether or not that’s actually occurred, but apparently there are some discussions going on. I’ve got to believe if you’re AirBNB and you get a letter from legislators in now 41 states that says that we strongly oppose this anti-free market effort and this effort to boycott a major trading partner of the United States, I’ve got to believe they take that very seriously.

Rick:

That’s, man, that”€™s very good news. So, I’m tempted to retract my call to use HomeAway instead of AirBNB, but I think they should pay a little bit of an economic price. And until we know for sure. So, everybody do what you think is right. I’m sticking with HomeAway until they for sure reverse the policy.

Special thanks to ALEC for being so involved on this. Phil, Bill, we appreciate both of you. Thank you so much for coming on. We got David and Tim Barton coming back when we come back right after the break.

Join Us In Israel!

Hey guys what are you doing January 28th through February 7th? If you said you don’t know, let me give you an idea. We are going to Israel. Rick Green, my dad, David Barton, Tim Barton, our families are going and we would love for you to go with us. We are going to the Holy Land if you’ve ever been to Israel this is something as a Christian that will make you forever read your bible differently.

To see where Jesus walked, where He lived, where He did miracles, where so much of the Bible took place. If you’ve ever read through the Bible and you’ve given it a mental picture, the mental picture will not do justice of what happens when you’re actually on the ground. If you’ve ever thought about the story of David and Goliath and you”€™ve envisioned what it looks like, we’re going to go to the actual field where it took place.

There are so many things that you will see that literally makes the Bible come to life. In fact, that’s the name of the tour group we”€™re going with is The Bible Comes to Life. Go to CMJacksboro.com. You can click on the link, it has an Israel itinerary, all kinds of details. Hope to see you on this trip this coming year.

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Special thanks to Phil King and Bill Meirerling for joining us as well.

We’re back with David and Tim Barton. And of course, guys, we got a good education there on what ALEC is doing, what they’re all about, and then of course a topic very near and dear to our hearts here at WallBuilders Live is Israel and this effort to boycott, divestiture. It’s anti-Semitic, it’s an attack on Israel every time somebody participates in it. And to find out that AirBNB has participated in that and– the three of us, we travel a lot.

In fact, when we go to Frontsight we stay in rent houses more than we do hotels. I’m glad that most of the ones I rent from I do it through HomeAway and not AirBNB. At this point, I think I’ll just be using HomeAway and not AirBNB. And I don’t even know HomeAway”€™s politics, but AirBNB is obviously liberal politics here.

Ultra Left Wing Policies in Multiple Scenarios

Tim:

Yeah, but, Rick, just help me understand because it sounded like in the interview that it’s possible they’re shifting back in the right direction, it just wasn’t totally clarified yet.

David:

Yeah.

Tim:

Is that my understanding?

Rick:

That’s what he was saying and we’ll find out for sure. I’m kind of of the opinion I still want them to take an economic hit for having done it in the first place. Let’s not forget – AirBNB also has this no gender, they won’t ask your gender, you can’t find out if the home you’re staying in or all that good– And there have been some some horrible things happen as a result of that. So, they’re ultra left wing policies have been shining through in multiple scenarios.

Tim:

Yeah, well, and the good news about it being a free market is, as you mentioned, there’s other options.

Rick:

That”€™s right.

Tim:

And competition does help correct the market. So, if you have somebody doing something ridiculous– we talk about it so often in this program – you can vote with your dollars. And, fortunately, in situations like this there are other options. Also fortunately, you have groups like ALEC who are willing to take a stand on a, we would again, consider significant principle.

David:

It’s not small– 41 states and 165 legislators. That’s impressive.

Tim:

That’s a lot of names.

Convenience Over Principle

David:

That”€™s a lot of stuff.

Tim:

And it will be interesting to see if they do come kind of on circling back and saying, “€œOkay, no, we’re taking a strong position in the opposite direction.”€ So, we’re going to  clarify if there is confusion. Rick, it’s something that, unfortunately, a lot of people would rather have convenience than stand on principle in a lot of situations.

Rick:

Sure.

David:

Let me point out too that AirBNB has the right to try to punish Israel.

Tim:

Sure they do.

David:

They’re a private business. I think that’s stupid, but I support their right to be stupid if that’s what they want to do. They may pay a price for it, this might be something that really hurts them economically.

Tim:

And we support, right, the consequences that are happening to them.

David:

That”€™s right. Because just like I support their right to do that. I also support the right of legislators to express their concern over that and send a joint letter. You go, “€œWell, that’s coercion, they’re using the power of government.”€ No, they aren’t. They did not pass a single law, they haven’t put a fine in place, they have not penalized them, they’ve not done anything that the free market doesn’t uphold and allow.

Tim:

Sure.

Everyone Has the Right

David:

They have weighed in– and see, this is one of the crazy things I really dislike about where the courts are in the Constitution. They think that if you’re a teacher, for example, you lose your right to free speech and religious expression because a teacher has more authority. No, a teacher is a citizen just like a student is a citizen and to draw this artificial distinction that because you’re an authority figure you can’t have religious– that”€™s crazy.

And to say that a legislator doesn’t have the right to weigh in with a letter to AirBNB and say, “€œHey, we as legislators are really concerned.”€ Because they did not use the government to punish AirBNB, they simply weighed in. This is free market stuff all the way from top to bottom. I think– I mena, I support their right to be able to do that as legislators.

And this is one of the things where that a lot of noise that happens were companies here and they hear from a lot of loud mouth people. That doesn’t mean that”€™s the market that’s there. So, we’ll see what the market does with this. But I think, Rick, like you, a lot of people are going to say, “€œYou know what? These guys are too far left and this was the final straw when you’re going to attack Israel and be anti-Semitic. I’m not going to help you make money. I’m not going to reward you with my dollars. I”€™ll find some other free market competition–“€ Tim, as you said, “€œ–that’s out there that we can go to.”€

Rick:

Well, we talk a lot here about having positive influence on companies that do the right thing. And the opposite – those that don’t, you don’t shop there. We have our 2ndvote website that we encourage people to go visit. And most of the time, most years, we have our naughty and nice – which companies are participating in Christmas and that sort of thing.

Using the Free Market

Rick:

So, we believe in the free market. We think that consumers should be able to influence and let those companies know when they approve or disapprove. So, that’s exactly what can take place here and we’ll see what ends up happening with AirBNB, what kind of decision they end up making. But just their their instincts on these decisions have not been good.

But thank the Lord for ALEC, and for Phil King, and legislators, that are willing to stand up on controversial issues like this and then speak truth and get people informed on it.

David:

Well, we’ve already seen the left wing companies like Starbucks make significant changes. They got rid of their CEO, they suddenly welcomed veterans back and were hiring veterans. Now, they’re still left leaning, but they’re not hostile like they used to be. And Starbucks used to be an extremely hostile company from the left and the market drove them back.

Tim:

Well, and guys, this is one of the things that I’m so grateful for that God has allowed us have a platform to connect with these legislators with our Pro Family Legislative Conference, our Pro Family Legislative Network that, every year, we’re doing things to encourage that very kind of behavior. We have some great relationships with legislators in almost every state. And it’s something fun that God’s allowed us to do. And for those that are supporters of WallBuilders, they are supporting these very efforts with us being able to connect with legislators, and help do training, and give biblical perspective, and biblical worldview, on how to get involved in these very kinds of issues.

So, it really is fun to have been friends with Phil for so many years and hopefully many more to come. But this is just one more of those areas that people that support WallBuilders, they”€™re helping support these very kinds of efforts.

ALEC – AirBNB Joins Anti-Israel BDS Movement

Rick:

Well, folks, we appreciate you listening and very thankful for Phil King, very thankful for ALEC. We appreciate Bill Meirerling for joining us today as well. And we encourage you to, just like Bill was saying, call your legislators, encourage them to join ALEC. Build a relationship with your legislators. I love what they were talking about in terms of just pick up and phone call and say, “€œHey, thanks for doing your job.”€ Regardless of where they stand. It’s a great way for you to have more influence in your community and your state.

We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.