“Radical” Conservatism: Getting Saul Alinsky on Their Butts
Any Google search will gladly take one to Saul Alinsky’s “Rule for Radicals.” Naturally, the goals of these rules is to foment strife and pit one person against another until some compromise is reached where the attacker gains concessions from the attacked. But, the attacker does not really stop there. Once they get the concession, they then take it to the next level, or the next battle. A good example is the gay marriage issue. The goal of the gay activist community is same sex marriage and nothing less. They realize that although there may be polls showing that an increasing number of Americans are becoming accepting of gay marriage, when it comes to translating those sentiments into actions, there is a serious disconnect. That is why there are far more states with either statutes or constitutional provisions against same sex marriage than there are states that allow gay marriage. Even in such a liberal state as California, voters there decided against same sex marriage. However, along the way, the LGBT community had to accept some compromise in the form of state-recognized civil unions. Yet, in every state that has civil unions, there are concerted efforts to allow same sex marriage. Simply, once the opponents of gay marriage allowed a compromise in this area, the LGBT community recognized a weakness to exploit at a later date.
The entire goal of putting these rules into action is change. In the case of the liberal, it is a change to their liking and world view. Through their “ends justifies the means” morality, Alinsky asserted that to effectuate true change, people must feel defeated, frustrated, lost, and with no hope for the future. The words chosen here are basically Alinsky’s, but notice the two key words: Hope and Change. Obviously, Team Obama has learned well whether they realize it or not, not that they would admit this if they did realize it. Already, the electorate is frustrated by over 40 months of unemployment above 8%. What else would explain the fact that millions have simply given up. That attitude has spread like a cancer into other areas. When this happens, they win because they now lay the groundwork for the change part- a change in opposition to everything America is and stands for. Thus, the Obama campaign theme- “Forward”- this time out. What is amazingly funny about this is that their rendition of “forward” is merely to double down on the failed liberal experiments of the past.
The first rule- power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have- is a great rule to exploit. However, for it to effective, you have to selectively use it to its maximum advantage. A perfect example is the recent Chick-Fil-A controversy this summer. When the liberal LGBT community threatened a boycott and followed through in certain areas, the conservative community responded with an even more successful anti-boycott. The LGBT community soon backed down and backed down quickly. But, boycotts need to be used sparingly and to maximum effect lest even the threat go by the wayside.
As to the second and third rules- going outside the expertise of your enemy and never going outside your own expertise- that should be rather simple. It would also freak liberals and Democrats out no end. They are the ones who really have cornered the market on identity politics. But imagine if the tables were turned ever so subtly. Imagine if conservatives were to call Democrats and liberals racist because they think that affirmative action and minority set asides are their ideas of advancing minorities. Aren’t they the ones saying that minorities need special treatment because they are “inferior?” Ignore their reasons for that alleged inferiority; that is exactly what they are saying. They would be placed on the defensive. Another area where liberals really lack any expertise is Christian values. Since 76% of Americans are Christian, wouldn’t it make sense to take advantage of that? The Democratic Party is a political party that removed the word “God” from their official platform, then could not understand the resulting uproar. Only after it was brought to their attention was it changed.
Making them live by their own rules is simply exposing their hypocrisy. It seemed to work with Al Gore. Mr. Global Warming was exposed as a hypocrite once someone found the electric bill for his mansion in Tennessee. Democrats and liberals are replete with examples of hypocrisy. They rail about Wall Street, but take their contributions. At least conservatives don’t try to hide or nuance the practice. Look at how well they use this rule when “family values” conservatives are caught playing footsie in an airport bathroom or caught in an extramarital affair.
With the 5th rule, many conservatives argue that they don’t want to get in the gutter with liberals. But, sometimes it is necessary. Karl Rove did it to great effect. During the Watergate scandal, Donald Segretti, although some of the tactics were infantile, was equally effective. Ridicule works. Basically, one has to skirt the edges of slander without going over that line. For example, Obama supporters went over the line when they ran ads that depicted Romney as somehow killing a steel worker’s wife. That is certainly slander that went over the line and the ads were pulled. But, the previous ad, although false, about Bain closing KSG steel was somewhat slanderous with just enough truth that it detracted the Romney campaign into getting the facts out. There is enough in Obama’s background to fill several books to borderline slander his name- Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, the New Party, etc. If Romney’s business dealings 20 years ago are fair game, then Obama’s associates 20 years ago are equally fair game. By doing this, you force the opponent to give up his guard, weaken them, and detract them. Even if it is for a few days, those are a few days their campaign cannot stick to their message and control the dialogue.
When they strike, the purpose is not to counter strike in kind. Take the example of a boxing match. A good boxer, when struck with a low blow, will not respond with a low blow because they know the referee will be watching for it. Instead, they may get in close and head butt their opponent. Also, the opponent will expecting the low blow and likely have a defense for it thus making your in-kind response less effective. By doing it the opposite way, you keep the opponent off-guard and not knowing where the next blow will come from.
Conservatives generally don’t have fun. We are more cerebral and appeal more to reasoned argument. The only problem with that is most people are not policy wonks. It is true that think tanks like the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute put out outstanding policy papers. But, these are not papers that the bulk of the electorate read. The only people who follow the campaign before Labor Day are those politically in-tune. Most people aren’t. That is why campaign coverage picks up after Labor Day. The same is true of policy. The truly politically adept will read and understand the policy differences in detail. Most people won’t. That is why conservatives have to have more fun along the way.
For example, wouldn’t it be cool to hold a campaign fundraiser at a shooting range? Or have a conservative vote registration drive with Kid Rock as the spokesman? How about having a traveling off-Broadway show featuring Clint Eastwood’s empty chair? We can have the Million Conservative Person March on Washington. If the crowd gets too rowdy, a Harry Reid impersonator could come out to drone on and quell the masses. Remember those anti-war marches with Bush effigies? How about a huge puppet of Nancy Pelosi being injected with botox? At the Million Conservative Person March, we can have a robotics company from La Jolla showing how Nancy Pelosi was made. The radical group CODEPINK garnered a lot of attention in Tampa Bay by dressing as vaginas and protesting. How about a conservative group called CODEBLUE (as in the economy) where protesters dress up as blue testicles. The possibilities are endless. But the fact remains, a little controversy goes a long, long way.
But we cannot let something drag on for too long because, lets face it, the attention span of the electorate is rather short. Look at those people who camped out in the parks of New York protesting Wall Street greed. It was news for a few days, then it got boring. Look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- coverage has dwindled dramatically since the days of shock and awe. Look at the Republican nomination process. Eventually the number of debates became a laughing stock even among Republicans. Drag something on for too long and it becomes…well, boring.
Keeping the pressure on- the downfall of most conservatives. Generally, we get offended, shout a little, then shrug our shoulders and move on. A perfect example is the uproar over Bill Maher’s $1 million donation to an Obama Super-Pac. That was news for about two days. When they invoke the name Koch, we need to invoke the name Soros twice. David Axelrod is another example. He seems to slip the phrase “tax return” into every interview he gives. We need to slip the phrase “Jeremiah Wright” into every interview our side gives. They want to bring up Mitt Romney’s past? There are more nefarious skeletons in Barack Obama’s past to fill a haunted house. And the pressure has to be constant. That is the number one rule of advertising which explains why McDonald’s runs the same advertisement over and over so that by the 50th time, you find yourself buying a Big Mac and large soda (but not in New York).
Threats are sometimes more frightening than the thing itself. Threats only work if they are sometimes carried through on. If you follow through on the threat all the time, it becomes blase. During the primary, a gay protester threw glitter on Newt Gingrich. It was a harmless act of civil disobedience that got headlines. We could not do this against a sitting President lest the Secret Service get involved, but could you imagine the headlines if someone just once threw coal dust on an environmentalist? Or if they throw a pie at a conservative speaker on campus, why not throw garbage at a liberal speaker?
Pushing a negative into the positive; put any other way, always be on the offensive. The reason is simple human psychology. For example, liberals are attacking Paul Ryan’s plan which forces Ryan into a lot of explaining. When he starts explaining and defending, people start to believe that there is smoke. Where there is smoke, there is fire, or so people believe. Instead, ignore the criticisms and stick to YOUR message. Keep hammering YOUR message. After all, what Obama says is old news and people start to tune out his message. A perfect example is the “blame George W. Bush” strategy. Obama overplayed that ploy since his inauguration and today it is fodder for late night comedic monologues.
The final rule- target, freeze, personalize and polarize- is the most difficult for conservatives once we get to the last part. It goes against our grain. But, a little polarization goes a long way and, quite frankly, would resonate with many independents. Why not label white liberals racist? Why not label Democrats anti-Christian? It would not to be too far off the truth. And despite polls that say people, especially independents are turned off by negative politics, they too look at the car accident on the road.
I would add another rule as concerns political campaigns: When in trouble, have good corner men to help out. Axelrod, Wasserman-Schultz- these are good attack dogs that make the outrageous statements, but that are good sound bites and sometimes effective blows. I personally think Donald Trump is a jerk, but he plays a role. Every time he mentions a birth certificate or a college transcript, it gets some airplay on the news usually followed by a Democratic/liberal response. What makes it even better is that they usually fall for it. Wouldn’t making comments like this be worth seeing a Chris Matthews meltdown, or Ed Schultz’s head spontaneously combusting? Republicans and conservatives need more political bomb throwers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Given the stakes in this year’s election, fighting fire with fire in the gutter is sometimes a must. Even in a worse case scenario- an Obama victory and another four years of near socialism- it would serve conservatives and Republicans well to pick up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and adopt some of the tactics for the future. Because with an Obama victory in November, things will only get uglier.