Alinsky and the Republicans

It is in the nature of man to seek change. We are never completely satisfied with the status quo. Many of us with a idealistic bent see the flaws in our present society and dream of utopia. Most of us are pragmatic enough to realize that perfection will never be achieved, but we strive for improvements in those areas that most concern us.

Some Democrats evidently regard the late Saul Alinsky as a admirable advocate for social justice, and the Republicans often accuse them of employing Alinsky’s “rules for radicals” in the inter-party struggles, thus degrading political discourse. Nixon was said to believe that all was fair in politics, but Alinsky took political agitation and dirty stratagems to extremes.      

Saul Alinsky was a brilliant agitator, and he knew how to put his finger into the collective eye of “the Establishment”.  I do not doubt his earnest desire to promote the economic welfare of the disadvantaged members of our society – especially the inner-city blacks.  Nevertheless, I disapprove of some of his actions, and I believe that his crude tactics were often counterproductive in that they caused social unrest and divisive strife rather than fostering real progress. Also, I could never understand Alinsky’s own concept of how our nation should be organized and governed.  I saw his fight for social justice, but I could detect no real vision on his part.  What was his utopian dream of a more perfect union?  I believe in the Biblical admonition, “Without a vision, my people perish.”

Any serious student of politics should credit Republicans, as well as Democrats, with wanting the very best for our nation. Tactics may differ, and conceptions of a “more perfect union” may not entirely align; but both parties desire a happy, prosperous land in which all citizens can live in freedom and prosperity.  The average Republican is no more interested in “amoral personal gain” than the average Democrat, and it is ridiculous to assert that Republicans support the concept of exploiting others in society and forcing them to become “their profit base.”  Of course, Republicans sometimes say stupid things the can be interpreted as arrogant and heartless, but the characterization of Republicans by selective quotes from  David Buckley, Ayn Rand, the Tea Party activists, etc. is much akin to describing Democrats by making selective excerpts from speeches by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar.     

Most Republicans do believe that individuals will work harder and more efficiently for themselves than for some communal enterprise.  They sometimes cite the example of our Pilgrim fathers.  After an unsuccessful experience with communal farming, the Plymouth settlers divided the land among the families, resulting in an immediate increase in agricultural production and greater prosperity for the entire community. Also remember the lesson from the Old Testament Book of Nehemiah.  The Jews made little progress in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem until each family took responsibility for building that section of wall in front of their own abode.  After that, the wall went up quickly. 

Yes, Republicans tend to distrust large communal endeavors and are opposed to big government – especially the huge federal bureaucracy that developed during and after the great depression.  Of course, they also realize that great government-run enterprises are sometimes necessary; but they are very inefficient, and there should be as few as possible.

The Republican ideal is the small business-man with a shop or factory with fifty or fewer employees.  They think that these small businesses should be able to run and thrive with minimal government interference.  They also hope that every employer embraces the Christian principles of fairness and good-will and provides reasonable wages, health care, etc.  Failing that, and assuming competition, it is likely that the business will soon fail.  Inequities tend to be self-correcting over time.

Of course, our modern society is much more complex than the small business model described above.  There are immense national and multi-national corporations, labor unions, environmental considerations, healthcare issues, safety concerns, etc.  Some governmental interference is necessary in order to protect those who are caught in the crush.  I know very few persons of any political persuasion who think otherwise.

Democrats and Republicans must learn to work together to solve our problems instead of trying to embarrass or demean each other a la Alinsky.  



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