Obama and Alinsky:
Another Radical Connection

Obama and Alinsky - Yet another radical connection

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you've surely heard of Barack Obama's connections with radicals such as race-baiting, America-hating Reverend Jeremiah Wright and unrepentant terrorists William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and probably Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan.

Another radical connection you may not have heard of is Saul Alinsky, called the "father of community organizing" in modern America. Many people have been asking, "What the heck is 'community organizing?'" We found this definition: community organizing is the political practice of organizing communities to act in their own common self-interest. This is typically accomplished through agitation. Saul Alinsky is credited with coining the phrase, "Think globally, act locally."

In the opening paragraph of his book, Rules for Radicals, published in 1971 (the year before his death), Alinsky says, "What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. [Sound familiar?] The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

In a letter to the editor of The Boston Globe published on August 31, 2008, Alinsky's son David gushed about how well Obama had learned his father's teachings, as displayed at the Democratic National Convention:

ALL THE elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd's chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.

Barack Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.

I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.

L. David Alinksy

In March, Ryan Lizza reported in The New Republic, "When [Obama] announced his candidacy for president last month, he said the 'best education' he ever had was not his undergraduate years at Occidental and Columbia or even his time at Harvard Law School, but rather the four years he spent in the mid-'80s learning the science of community organizing in Chicago." Obama has repeated this comment in several stump speeches.

Lizza says, "At the heart of the Alinsky method is the concept of 'agitation'-- making someone angry enough about the rotten state of his life that he agrees to take action to change it; or, as Alinsky himself described the job, to 'rub raw the sores of discontent.'"

So, what is it that Obama learned from Alinksy? Let's take a look at Rules for Radicals:

Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.

Tactics are those conscious deliberate acts by which human beings live with each other and deal with the world around them. In the world of give and take, tactics is the art of how to take and how to give. Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves.

For an elementary illustration of tactics, take parts of your face as the point of reference; your eyes, your ears, and your nose. First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power. Second the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then...conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does. Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place. [And apparently, he meant this literally - there is a story about his threat of a "fart-in" at a Rochester, New York, opera house to draw attention to a company's refusal to hire blacks.]

Always remember the first rule of power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

Second: Never go outside the experience of your people. When an action is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity. [Obama has certainly used this one to his advantage, knowing that John McCain is a man of principle.]

The fourth rule carries within it the fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage. [Remember the attacks on McCain as being "erratic," and "unable to use the internet." That one backfired on them because the campaign workers didn't do a good job of researching WHY McCain doesn't use the internet.]

Sixth rule: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.

A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which it becomes a ritualistic commitment.

Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative.

The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his suddenly agreeing with your demand and saying "You're right - we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us."

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and "frozen." By this I mean that in a complex, interrelated, urban society, it becomes increasingly difficult to single out who is to blame for any particular evil. There is a constant, and somewhat legitimate, passing of the buck. The target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target.

One of the criteria in picking your target is the target's vulnerability - where do you have the power to start? Furthermore, the target can always say, "Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?" When you "freeze the target," you disregard these arguments and, for the moment, all others to blame.

Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all of the "others" come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target.

The other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract such as a community's segregated practices or a major corporation or City Hall. It is not possible to develop the necessary hostility against, say, City Hall, which after all is a concrete, physical, inanimate structure, or against a corporation, which has no soul or identity, or a public school administration, which again is an inanimate system.

Are you beginning to recognize the playbook for the Obama campaign?

Much noise has been made about unfairly attributing to Obama "guilt by association." He dismissed Bill Ayers as "a guy in my neighborhood," but we've seen that the relationship is much deeper than that. When Jeremiah Wright became too much of a liability, despite Obama having called him a "spiritual mentor" for the past 20 years or so and the title of his book Audacity of Hope being inspired by a phrase from a Wright sermon, Obama found it necessary to distance himself from Wright.

We believe that character matters - more than any other trait - in the person we want to see as President of these United States. And we believe that the kind of people we choose as mentors and friends also matters. It is true that "birds of a feather flock together."

So, do we want a President who is "of a feather" with Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Louis Farrakhan, Saul Alinsky, Frank Marshall Davis, Raila Odinga, Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour and others with similar radical backgrounds?

We think the answer is a resounding "NO." We just hope enough American voters are provided with information about these people and Barack Obama's connections with them before Tuesday's election.

Please help us get this message out. Use the "add this" button in the right-hand column or the buttons across the bottom of the page to share this article, and/or 

For more information about Saul Alinsky and his student Barack Obama, we encourage you to read several insightful pieces by our friend, Kyle-Anne Shiver, who writes regularly at American Thinker and blogs at commonsenseregained.com. She has spent quite a bit of time analyzing Saul Alinsky and his influence on Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton), and can persuasively help you understand why we should be very afraid of an Obama presidency. She also has compiled there a list of some of her previous articles about Barack Obama that she feels are must-reads before you vote (in addition to those we list here).

Obama, the Closer

Obama's Radical Revolution:Its Alinsky Root and Global Vision

Putting Lipstick on the Community Organizing Pig

Obama's Alinsky Hoodwink is Coming Home to Roost

Obama, Hillary and Alinsky's Tactics

Obama's Alinsky Jujitsu

Barack Obama pages

John McCain pages

Return to top of Obama and Alinsky.


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