How the Right “Out-Alinsky’ed” the Admin. at Townhalls
“The tenth rule: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is the unceasing pressure that results in the reaction from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign. It should be remembered not only that the action is in the reaction bur that action is itself the consequence of reaction and of reaction to the reaction, ad infinitum. The pressure produces the reaction , and constant pressure sustains action.” (Rules for Radicals, p. 129)
Keep in mind also that according to Alinsky:
“The fourth rule carries within it the fifth rule: Ridicule is man’ most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” (Rules for Radical, p.128)
So what has happened that has so suddenly turned on this President, and his advisor David Axelrod (who is one of the all time greats at using Alinsky’s rules)? Well, notice that Alinsky says in the quote above that it is “almost” impossible to counterattack ridicule. He was quite careful with his language. It is almost impossible, but it is not impossible.
The President is particularly enamored with rules four, and thirteen. As a refresher, rule thirteen states, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” (Rules for Radicals, p. 130) If you look back to the general election campaign your first thought when reading this will be, Sarah Palin! Exactly right.
The Administration had become so accustomed to having everything their way that they became a little complacent in playing the rules. After all they were very successful against McCain and especially Palin(to say nothing of Bill and Hillary). Their success seemed to continue as they branded the Republicans the party of no and basically spit in their face in private while publicly touting bipartisanship politics. They moved on (pun intended) to Rush Limbaugh, and aside from a boost to his ratings they were largely successful with their new “target”. And then suddenly things started to change.
They misread how grassroots the movement in town halls really was. This was a cynical assessment, assuming that everyone knew and played by their rules. Surely it was all orchestrated by Republican Organizations (some was), and surely they would make easy targets. After all, these were mainly white Americans screaming about an African-American President and they didn’t seem that smart.
When Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer ran an op-ed in the NY Times calling the folks at town hall meetings un-American they hit the wall. They had violated their own principles. The American people respect people who speak up, and resent politicians labeling them – especially extremely unpopular politician s like Nancy Pelosi. They had chosen ridicule again, and this time they forgot that it is not only the reaction, but the reaction to the reaction.
Suddenly, Obama’s poll numbers plummeted, and the margin against healthcare reform steadily widened. It perplexed the White House at first. Where had they gone wrong? The final turning point came when the reaction from the one which they had pressured and ridiculed the most, Sarah Palin, actually led the discussion, and helped to torpedo their efforts at grabbing more control.
They had assumed that not only had they marginalized her, but that when she resigned as Governor she had placed the final nail in her own coffin. Brilliantly, she waited and waited and then just one post on new media, where Obama was supposed to rule, and things had taken the final turn. Today they are running out spokespeople to declare that they are willing to give up on the public option – the very heart of what they were trying to do.
To sum up, they forgot about the reaction to the reaction chain spoken of by Alinsky,and they fell too in love with a few favorite tactics. They thought they were bullet-proof, and they assumed they had marginalized white discontent as racialism, and Sarah Palin as a hillbilly nut-job. They were oh so wrong.
You see there is a way to defeat Alinsky principles. It is good old fashioned first amendment rights, coupled with a love for country and respect for The Constitution!