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Oct 18, 2013


Phoenix Woman

One of the reasons Alinsky hesitated to write Rules for Radicals, despite being constantly pressed to do so, was because he guessed that the elbow-throwing righties were far more likely to study and use his methods than were his fellow lefties. He was fortunate enough to die before he could see his worst fears materialize.

From what I can see, the two key things the right wing has taken from Alinsky are these:

-- His advocacy of using a single issue on which to build a movement that would in time branch out to the issues the organizers secretly really want to work on. (This has been a key feature of the single-issue politics the conservatives used to peel off socially-conservative Catholics from the Democratic Party. See also the comments of conservative single-issue politics expert Ralph Reed about not revealing too much of one's aims publicly: "You’ve got two choices: You can wear cammies and shimmy along on your belly, or you can put on a red coat and stand up for everyone to see.")

-- His "pick the target and personalize it" rule, with is tied with his exhortation to always frame things in black-and-white terms because shades of gray don't get people into the streets or the voting booths. Thus in 2009, when right-wingers, who had already demonized President Obama, wanted to attack the ACA, they started by inventing the term "Obamacare", thus using a form of personalization that featured demonization by association. (Imagine what might have happened to Social Security had it been called "Roosevelt Pensions" or some such.)

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