Newt Gingrich calls Barack Obama a "Saul Alinsky radical" and sneering at the president's tenure as a "community organizer." If you're curious who Alinsky was, Richard Adams at The Guardian has an informative short post up on his blog. (American lefties? You really should be checking in on the Guardian's website once a day, if you aren't already, if for no other reason than Anna Marie Cox's hilarious 2012 election blog.) This detail jumped out at me:
In Rules for Radicals, for example, [Alinsky] responds to the demands by youth frustrated at the continuation of the Vietnam war by the Democratic party after the political battles and riots of 1968:
"It hurt me to see the American army with bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the answer I gave to the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: 'Do one of three things. One, go and find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organise, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.'"
Much of Alinsky's advice about to bring about change in modern political climate is now so mainstream that it would hardly be recognised as radical.
Infuckingdeed. Alinsky's advice to young radicals—"go home, organize, build power [and] you be the delegates"—is the strategy adopted by American religious right and social conservatives in the 1980s. They're organized, they're the delegates, they pack the school boards, they pack the city councils and state legislatures. The right's adoption of Alinsky's strategy was a success for the right and a disaster for the country. But you gotta give 'em credit: the right got out there and they organized and they built power. And how did they do that? Well, they did it with... wait for it... community organizers!
Because rightwingers don't really have a problem with rightwing community organizers or organized rightwing communities. They only have a problem when other communities get organized. (ACORN, anyone?)
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!