Friday, April 10, 2015

Politics Isn’t Patty Cake

When Senator Ted Cruz announced for the Presidency, it was a reminder that politics isn’t patty cake. Patty cake is a children’s game in which children pat hands while reciting a nursery rhyme. Politics isn’t a nursery game. Politics is an adult game in which politicians slam each other while exchanging insults to bring down more powerful opponents.

Saul Alinsky , the patron saint of community organizers who died in 1972, set down these rules to show how the game is played( Rules for Radicals, 1971):

The rules[1]

“Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

“Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

“Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

“A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

“A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

“Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

“If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

“The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Critics have repeatedly said President Obama, a social organizer in this own right, applied these rules to win the Presidency and to keep his political opponents off-balance while serving as President. For example, critics say he ridicules Republicans as heartless for opposing ObamaCare, his policies turn minorities into majorities by redistributing health benefits from the middle class to the poor, he uses scare tactics by saying a negative Supreme Court decision will lead to poor health or deaths of millions of innocents , he repeatedly attacks the Washington and business establishments as mean-spirited, he doubles down and shifts blame to others when his policies fail. These accusations may not be true, but if true they are not patty cake.

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