Obama's Multiple Crusades Are Straight out of Alinsky Playbook for Social Revolution
Posted on July 6 2009 2:24 pm
Political strategist Dick Morris, appearing with guest host Mike Huckabee on The Oâ€™Reilly Factor last Thursday, spoke about the significance of the confrontational exchange (see video here) that took place at the most recent White House press briefing, where correspondents Chip Reid and Helen Thomas criticized the administration for having pre-selected the participants and questions at President Obamaâ€™s health-care town hall meeting. Said Morris: â€œThe media works like a pendulumâ€¦. I believe that every week President Obama’s support on health care drops [i.e., will drop] four or five points, and he is going to run out of time and run out of votes.â€
Obama, being a shrewd political operative, is clearly aware of this possibility. That explains why he has repeatedly exhorted Congress to pass health-care reform legislation as soon as possible, characterizing it as a matter of extreme urgency that must be addressed within the confines of a narrow window of opportunity.
Americans of all political stripes have marveled at how Obama seamlessly shifts his focus, like a juggler, from one monumentally transformativeÂ Â item to anotherâ€”from healthcare reform, to immigration reform, to cap and tradeÂ (which would devastate the national economy), etc.Â The president’sÂ admirers marvel at his apparently irrepressible work ethic and his ability to multi-task, while his detractors recoil inÂ horror at the degree to which he aims to remake, almost overnight, American society and its economic foundations.
But in point of fact, what Obama is doing is not the least bit surprising to anyone who understands who the presidentâ€™s political mentors are. Indeed, what he is doing is straight out of the playbook of the late Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals.
Alinsky was a Chicago Marxist who, in the aforementioned books, laid out the techniques by which â€œcommunity organizersâ€â€”like the Barack Obama of 1980s- and 1990s-era Chicagoâ€”could lead movements for social revolution and upheaval. Extensively trained in Alinskyâ€™s methods, Obama became a master of those methods. He thenÂ went on, in the 1990s, to teach them to an army of agitators belonging to ACORN. At that time, ACORN played a central role in demanding that banks issue subprime loans to undercapitalized nonwhite borrowersâ€”a practice that eventually would lead to our current economic and housing crisis.
According to Alinsky, it was vital for â€œcommunity organizersâ€–like Obama–to focus on multiple crusades and multiple approaches, rather than on a single agenda item. â€œA tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag,â€Â Alinsky wrote. â€œMan can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time â€¦ New issues and crises are always developingâ€¦â€
Alinksy advised organizers to be sure that they always kept more than one â€œfight in the bank.â€ In other words, organizers shouldÂ have, in reserve, a stockpile of crusades which they are fully prepared to pursue,Â and to which they can instantly turn their attention whenever it’s politically expedient do do so–for example, after they have wonÂ someÂ type of victory regarding another matter,Â or after their efforts inÂ that other matter begin to attract some unwelcome scrutiny.Â These â€œfights in the bankâ€ serve the dual purpose of keeping the organizersâ€™ momentum going, while not allowing any single crusade to get â€œstaleâ€ from excessive public exposure.
â€œMultiple issues mean constant action and life,â€ Alinsky wrote.
Barack Obama, the community organizer-turned-President, is simply practicing, quite methodically, the Alinsky techniques he learned so long ago. It isnâ€™t multi-tasking; it isnâ€™t brilliance. It is, focused, relentless, steel-hearted strategy.