Archive for February, 2011

The Alinsky Tactics – Rule by Rule -Part 7 – The Eighth Tactic

February 27, 2011 7 comments

Rule 8:  “Keep the pressure on with different tactics, and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.”~Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

All of the Alinsky tactics dovetail together, and until you fully appreciate that, you can’t unequivocally understand the Alinsky model, but if there is one central concept around which all the others orbit it is the overarching theme that the application of pressure is the only thing that will create change, and change is always the goal.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” ~Rahm Emmanuel

To the average sensibility, this quote from Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel seems oddly detached from our normal emotional reactions in times of tragedy. The word psychopath leaps to mind, but Rahm is no psychopath. He is just so fully immersed in the teachings of Alinsky that applying Alinsky principles is a reaction that requires no thought, and so any natural consideration of humanitarian concerns simply becomes irrelevant as it dissolves into “the greater good”. Of course, whose definition of “the greater good” we’re using would seem to be a pertinent consideration, and will be the subject of future posts.

As I explained previously in The Alinsky Reaction Chain, the principle purpose of all the tactics is to keep the pressure on your opponent. This requires a litheness and fluidity of approach that means even the tactics themselves are subject to change or abrogation if the end can be accomplished more quickly, or more easily by some other means. We will investigate in later posts just how important this issue of means and ends is in the Alinsky paradigm.

So the object is to keep the pressure on; be relentless; be ruthless if necessary, but win at any cost. No tragedy or misfortune is out of bounds if it can be employed to achieve your end goal. If you are utterly and completely convinced you are correct then surely you should leave no strategy untried to attain such noble goals. In this context, it is easy to understand the corruption, sell-outs, and backroom deals concomitant with the ramming through of Obamacare, as well as the seeming inconsistencies between noble goals and amoral means used to attain them.

Obama demonstrated his fidelity to Alinsky tactics over and over throughout the Presidential campaign of 2008, and continues to use them in the White House.

During the campaign Obama applied Alinsky tactics repeatedly; here are a few examples of his use of the eighth tactic:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” ~Barack Obama

“I want you to argue with them, and get in their faces.” ~Barack Obama

The general intent of the eighth tactic is this: if you’re convinced you’re right, and the consequences of your opponent winning are too dire for you to consider, you are obligated to do whatever is necessary to ensure that your side wins. The messy, corrupt process of passing Obamacare stands as a stark reminder of what Alinsky tactics look like when used to Govern. This isn’t just politics as usual. This is politics without even a consideration of the possibility that the morality of means might be relevant in the process of bringing about change.

Go to part 6

The Alinsky Tactics – Rule by Rule – Part Six – Rules 6 & 7

February 26, 2011 6 comments

Obama with Campaign Manager David Plouffe

Rule 6:   A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

Rule 7:   A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

~Alinsky, Saul Rules for Radicals

How many times can you call the Republican Party the Party of no? How many times can you blame George Bush? How many times can you call your opposition racists for disagreeing with you? How many times can you claim all Conservatives are stupid? How many times can you claim the Tea Party is violent, with no evidence to back it up? How many times can you say the economy is like a car in a ditch and the Republicans are drinking slurpees instead of helping get it out?

At first blush, based upon the record of the Obama Administration and its defenders over the course of his first two years in office the answer would seem to be a very large number indeed. The number is not, however, infinite. Eventually, the people defending you will tire of the same threadworm arguments being regurgitated ad nauseum.

In other words, if you want to keep the dogs happy and ready to attack on command, you better throw them some fresh meat from time to time. People may genuinely believe to the core every single principle for which you stand, but if they are forced to defend those principles using the same tactics over and over and over again they will eventually lose their edge and the argument right along with it.

It is critical that people enjoy what they’re doing. The concept that a happy workplace is a more productive one is not new, nor is it without as much if not more merit in the political realm, so expect the Democrats to make some dramatic turns in their approach between now and November of 2012. Already, we are beginning to see more and more of a move towards painting anyone who disagrees with Obama, not merely as racists, but as birthers – a concept much more insidious in that inherent in the implication is that Obama is “not one of us”. It is a diabolical way for Democrats to claim Conservatives, and particularly Tea Partiers, look at Obama as “one of those people”.

Yes, they drove some memes into the ground to their own detriment. After all, the failure to develop a new strategy before the midterms did not end well for Democrats, but make no mistake about it the end game for Democrats was never the midterms, it was always 2012. Assuring Obama’s reelection maintains the all-important veto to protect Obamacare, provides at least the possibility of a swing in the Supreme Court, and will usher in the reckless abandon of a lame duck President who seemingly will stop at nothing, and listen to no one who stands in the way of his ideologically driven agenda.

Get ready Conservatives – the game’s about to change.

Note: I have begun here to keep the posts about the rules briefer both for readability and because a book is in the works that will contain more exhaustive material.

Go to part 5 Go to part 7