Newt Gingrich wants Saul Alinsky to be the bogeyman of the 2012 elections. Never mind that the Marxist agitator he invokes in debates and stump speeches bears little resemblance to the real Alinsky, and never mind that Gingrich himself has based his campaign strategy on Alinsky's tactics.(full story at ibtimes.com)
The Alinsky that exists in Gingrich's mind -- and now, thanks to him, in the minds of countless Republican voters -- is a socialist, a communist, a Marxist radical, and exactly like Barack Obama. Obama is "a Saul Alinsky radical"; this election is a choice between capitalism and "the radicalism of Saul Alinsky."
The Alinsky that actually existed was liberal, yes, and he fought to give the lower classes more power as a community organizer in Chicago. He also worked with communists on some community-organizing projects. ("Anybody who tells you he was active in progressive causes in those days and never worked with the Reds is a goddamn liar," he told Playboy in an interview shortly before his death in 1972.)
And Alinsky was a radical. He embraced that label; that much is obvious from the title of his book. But radicalism is not an ideology. It is a way of promoting an ideology, and it can be applied equally well to the left or the right.
Alinsky applied it to the left. The Tea Party applies it to the right. In fact, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) gives Tea Party leaders copies of "Rules for Radicals," and his conservative group FreedomWorks, which works closely with the Tea Party movement, distributes a condensed version to all of its members.
Yes, the Tea Party uses Alinsky's tactics. So does Gingrich himself.
"The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a 'dangerous enemy,'" Alinsky wrote in "Rules for Radicals." "Today, my notoriety and the hysterical instant reaction of the establishment not only validate my credentials of competency but also ensure automatic popular invitation."
If that's not a description of Gingrich's campaign strategy, I don't know what is.
• Summary of Saul Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals'
• AlinskyDefeater's Blog
• Rules for Radicals at amazon.com
• Rules for Radical Conservatives at at amazon.com