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When attempting to address a large group or corporation it can be very difficult to get anyone to admit culpability. For example,suppose you have a problem with Republicans. Well, Republicans are a broad group and it is easy to say things like, “I didn’t vote for that bill”, etc. In this way you are never able to pin the opponent down.
When you freeze a target it means you have chosen a single person to represent the problem, and thus you have frozen any ability to pass the blame to others (think Rush Limbaugh).
Polarizing means that you have made this person such a poster child for what you are against that anyone who opposes the same issue you do sees them as polarized (think polar opposites).
Personalizing goes together with freezing,but takes it a step further and allows you to ridicule a person in very personal ways because people perceive it as ridiculing the idea or ideas that they represent (think Sarah Palin).
I hope that helps.If you have other questions be sure to ask.
So the townhalls caught the Administration off guard for the reasons I shared in the previous article. What then does the President do? His response was to go back to his strengths. He gathered large audiences of his admiring followers and answered staged questions. He used this as an opportunity to do three things:
- Show a display of power.
- Change his message.
- Refocus and find new “targets”.
He obviously could not afford to participate in a townhall like the ones we were seeing across the country so he chose his audience carefully. The old chants of “Yes we can”, which could have easily been mistaken for chants of “Yes we’re plants” even reemerged. When in doubt, go back into campaign mode!
This afforded Obama a chance to seem “Presidential” and in control. Unfortunately for him, most Americans saw an inexperienced President who veered off his talking points and was even befuddled by a college student.
The other response is to try to change the message-repackage the same product, but make it more appealing. And so the trial balloons float out every Sunday only to be shot down either by the far left of his own Party or by the American people, and the poll numbers keep bleeding. Even after they changed from healthcare reform to health insurance reform (should have started there), the message failed to resonate and the Left erupted when the Administration toyed with the idea of dropping the public option.
The third thing the Administration did, and continues to do, is to try to refocus their efforts and find new (and sometimes old) targets to be the face of the opposition. The President has been careful to never mention Sarah Palin by name, just as in the election campaign, but he made very clear who he was referring to when he said that some people were out there talking about crazy things like “death panels”.
Somebody Needs to Keep Reminding Obama About Rule Twelve.
The twelfth rule says:
“The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying, “You’re right – we don’t know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us” (Rules for Radicals, p. 130).
I actually tweeted about the President’s failure to hold to the twelfth rule, and a few weeks later, an excellent article about it appeared in TheAmericanThinker.com (I’m not claiming credit for the idea for that article. I’m sure that author has never even heard of me). The Republicans might have been more cooperative if the President had not ended an early discussion with words that took the air out of the room, “Well, I won!” Now the GOP had only one real option, but it just happened to play right into the Administration’s weakness concerning Alinsky tactics. They have shown a repeated pattern of taking an “audacious” chance that no one will ever challenge them to come up with the real answers, and so they delegated it to Congress and the Republicans sat on their hands and watched and waited (almost conceding, ala rule 12).
As a result, the responsibility fell back to the Democrats and the Administration to clearly define what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it – and they couldn’t! They were, albeit temporarily, trapped as Alinsky had warned.
Before my predictions, let me clarify rule 13. What does it mean to freeze, polarize, and personalize a target? We’ve seen them do it with Sarah Palin, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others, but what exactly are they doing?
They are putting a specific and recognizable face on the enemy! When Hillary said years ago that she was fighting against a “vast Right-wing conspiracy” it did not resonate with the nation, but when the Obama campaign staff unfurled one of the most vitriolic, Alinsky-style attacks in history on Sarah Palin during the 2008 election it snowballed and quite possibly tipped the election in their favor (hence the temptation by the Left to always go back to the Palin attacks). In a later article I intend to explain why I believe Sarah Palin’s career is far from over, and why this tactic could come back to haunt Democrats.
So What Happens Next?
What will be the new approach? I’ll use my experience with Alinsky tactics to try to predict that, but remember even Alinsky himself said, “There can be no prescriptions for particular situations because the same situation rarely recurs, any more than history repeats itself. People, pressures, and patterns of power are variables, and a particular combination exists only in a particular time – even then the variables are constantly in a state of flux” (Rules for Radicals, p. 138). While you may not be able to predict the future using your knowledge of Alinsky tactics, you will see them clearly when they use them. Some have even told me that it is like having their eyes opened. Everything suddenly begins to make sense.
First, expect a continuation of the moral imperative argument, because they think this will reach Christians. This only shows how little they really know about Christians, but expect them to try to hammer it home. This is disingenuous at best considering he is staunchly pro-abortion, will not pray, has not chosen a church, has crosses covered before he speaks, and went to Rev. Wright’s Church for 20 years.
Next, I believe they will come out strong against the insurance companies. They make easy villains, and in some cases are deserving of being villainized, but they are not stopping the President’s healthcare reform, his own party is. They have the votes without Republicans, but they can’t get everyone on board for the same things. So, watch a media blitz about the horrors of how people have been mistreated by these “evil” insurance companies.
Next, expect some very specific targets, and by that I mean people not organizations such as insurance companies. I expect specific CEO’s of insurance companies to be targeted and embarrassed by the Administration for being successful, and possibly for being negligent. The negligence, if it does it exits, will be exaggerated.
Don’t expect the targets to stop there. With time for Axelrod to refocus Obama, he will return to rule 12, and realize that people can really focus blame and hate on a person more than an idea or a group. For example, attacking Eric Cantor was much more “Alinsky” than blaming the Republicans for not co-operating as the President recently did, and attacking Glenn Beck is more successful than attacking Fox News. Freeze, polarize, and personalize!
Remember the reaction chain from the previous article. Just when you think you’ve won, they’ll have a new reaction. Perhaps it will be the Trojan horse of co-ops, or perhaps something we haven’t even thought of yet, but if you’re paying attention to the rules you will recognize it when you see it.
The side that wins will be the one that stays one step ahead, and keeps the pressure on. Rule eight says, “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose” (Rules for Radicals, p. 128). You can be certain that they will. Will you?
The joker faces and LOL icons have added a flavor of ridicule that carries a bit of a bite, but do not fall prey to being goaded into racism and Hitler comparisons. Your reaction to their reaction will be the key. When they make you mad, and they will make you mad in the next few weeks, ask yourself, “what kind of reaction are they trying to get from me”, and don’t give it to them. If they try to paint you as stupid, study up and document everything. If they try to make you look angry and out of control, laugh at them.
Whatever you do, don’t let them make you stop putting the pressure on!
“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!