Why Alinsky tactics are no longer Working for Obama
They’re still using Alinsky tactics
“Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were “selected for a reason,” they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew “how to make a stink,” and were encouraged to do so”
(Michelle Malkin’s Web site).
While the fact that the NEA is being manipulated by the President is troubling to say the least, I want to call attention to a specific part of the above quote. It says, “We knew ‘how to make a stink,’ and were encouraged to do so.” This could not be a more glaring reference to Saul Alinsky. From Alinsky’s biography by Sanford D. Horwitt we have this excerpt,
“…Alinsky later recalled with delight the community uproar in Rochester that greeted his suggestions as to what might be the only way for poor blacks to get the attention of the smug, self-righteous establishment: they should purchase a large bloc of tickets to a performance of the Rochester symphony-but, just before arriving, they would all get together for a huge baked-bean dinner so that at the symphony, Alinsky deadpanned their presence could not be ignored”(Horwitt,Let them call me Rebel, p. xv).
And Alinsky himself delighted in the story in his book Rules for Radicals. He says, “Here you could have a combination not only of noise but also of odor, what you might call natural stink bombs” (Alinsky, Rules for Radicals p. 139). In his description of his methods he encourages the underclass, lacking financial resources, to harness numbers and to raise a stink. So I think we can see that the Alinsky tactics have been firmly entrenched into the entire structure of the Obama campaign and Administration – right down to the NEA. Their recent attempts to target individuals and freeze them have been documented in some of my former posts. I will not retread that ground here.
Designed to destroy,not build. There are several reasons, but they all spring from one central concept: Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals were designed for an oppressed underclass (or more appropriately in Alinsky’s thinking, Plebeians – ala Karl Marx) to bring down the Capitalists who were ‘oppressing” them. This is a recurring theme with Obama, his friends, his appointments, and his supporters. Alinsky begins his book with these words,
“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be”(Alinsky, Rules for Radicals p. 3).
You may or may not recognize those words from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention where she quoted them almost verbatim as coming from the mouth of Barack Obama the very first time she met him. Here’s the video:
The thesis of Alinsky’s book is that the oppressed underclass can use the strengths they have to change America, and they need not simply permit those with the money to trample upon them. In some sense this is an admirable goal, but Alinsky takes it to the extreme. He ceases to concern himself with any sense of morality, and instead chooses to concentrate on change by any means necessary, with the end justifying the means.
Inherently Inconsistent. Alinsky may have started his book with the line about a ‘world as it should be’, but he never gets around to providing a structure or framework for such a new, more just world. He never seems to see beyond the struggle. It’s as though there is no sense that his side could ever actually win. Ironically this violates his own principles and tactics. Again, it is the twelfth rule that always trips up those who use Alinsky; probably because it tripped up Alinsky himself.
The twelfth rule says, ” The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Alinsky never planned for a process or any tactics to follow if victory was achieved. If the enemy actually agrees, Alinsky is stuck with no explanation for his actions.. If suddenly people agree, Alinsky offers no next step. Obama has fallen into this same trap more than once. For a good explanation of how the twelfth rule has bitten Obama recently see The American Thinker article here.
Likewise, the Obama Administration has been left with no ‘constructive alternative’ when everyone agrees that there is a need for improvement in America’s healthcare system, and differs only on the method by which it should be accomplished. Instead the void has been filled by angry townhalls, a traveling teaparty, and a scheduled march on Washington D.C. on September 12.
Vacation. With Congress in recess, his polls in free fall, and the American people rising en masse against the perceived Government intrusion of the various plans stuck in both Houses, Obama chose to take a vacation. Perhaps not the worst strategy. It seemed that every time he spoke his ratings dropped and the divide over healthcare reform widened. The overwhelming sense was that the President had failed to articulate a clear vision of what he wanted healthcare reform to look like.
A good summary of how ineffective Obama was on defining his message is summed up well in the following video by Cable News’ highest rated personality-Bill O’Reilly:
Counter-Offensive. While Obama is on vacation the strategy has been to organize against the townhall response. The following video catches an Obamacare supporter actually coaching the recruits how to shout down townhall protestors:
So clearly the strategy is to rely on old-style Alinsky tactics for now. Perhaps when the President returns from vacation, a new strategy will have been developed. Whether it departs from the prescribed Alinsky methods used thus far remains to be seen.
One thing seems certain. Unless Obama takes a page from the Clinton playbook and begins to move towards the center there is no way for him to win in the present environment. If he pushes healthcare reform through with ‘reconciliation’ he will only further enrage the already disenfranchised right and the newly disenfranchised Independents. It he fails to get enough for the left, even the so-called camel’s nose under the tent (a small step towards Publicly run healthcare that lays the framework for further action later) the left is not inclined to support the President.
Alinsky would continue to attack, pressure, ridicule, and polarize. Will the President continue that unsuccessful and divisive approach, or will he find a new way to do things? A way that would mean a huge departure from everything that has gotten him this far. It’s hard to say, but the next few weeks and months are certainly starting to look interesting!