During his victory speech on Saturday night in South Carolina and his appearance on Meet The Press on Sunday morning, Newt Gingrich mentioned Saul Alinsky and how evil, dangerous, and un-American his influence is on America and American politics. He also tried to associate President Obama with him. But, who IS Saul Alinsky and why is Newt Gingrich so frightened of him?
Well, it’s pretty simple: Saul Alinsky was a writer and community organizer who empowered the poor no matter their race. He strove to give a voice to the voiceless by organizing them into a body capable of massive protests, believing that the poor and disenfranchised would have more power to make their voices heard if they would come together and speak as one. In other words, he added the voices of the poor to our democracy.
Saul Alinsky grew up in a Jewish household and always identified himself as a Jew when asked about his religious views. His political views are harder to pin down, since he refused to join any party or subscribe to any ideology. I suspect Newt thinks that Alinsky is a communist but he would be wrong. Alinsky was appalled by political extremes. He hated the Nazis on the right and the Communists on the left. When asked if he would join the Communist Party, Alinsky replied,
“I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism… The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.”
Alinsky believed people could make their lives better if they became more politically active and joined together for that purpose. In the last years of his life, during the Nixon Presidency, Alinsky saw the coming extreme conservative movement and planned to organize white middle class citizens to fight for their futures. Alinsky feared the middle class would be driven to a right-wing viewpoint, “making them ripe for the plucking by some guy on horseback promising a return to the vanished verities of yesterday.” That guy on horseback sounds like Newt Gingrich and every other Republican who wants to take America back to a time when corporations and the wealthy had all the power, when regulations that protect consumers and workers didn’t exist, when racial minorities were second class citizens, when women were confined to the home, and when there were no protections for the disabled and the elderly.
It makes sense that Newt Gingrich fears Saul Alinsky. Alinsky helped give the poor and downtrodden a voice in this country. In fact, if Saul Alinsky were still alive, he’d be proud of the Occupy movement and would more than likely be helping to organize it. Newt Gingrich once mentioned Alinsky’s book, Rules For Radicals, and how bad for America it is. But the book just details how to organize and push for an idea and pressure the government to listen to the will of the people. In the first paragraph of the book Alinsky wrote, “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. 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.”
I wrote earlier that Alinsky’s political views are hard to pin down. I believe he was just left of center like President Obama is. And that’s another reason why Newt Gingrich tries to tie the two together. Barack Obama was a fantastic community organizer in Chicago, where Alinsky began his own organizing efforts. Alinsky was so effective that he drew criticism from those who feared the wrath of the masses, but he also drew praise from progressives like Adlai Stevenson who said Alinsky’s efforts “most faithfully reflect our ideals of brotherhood, tolerance, charity and dignity of the individual.” Even conservative William F. Buckley said he was “very close to being an organizational genius.” That being said, if Newt Gingrich says President Obama is like Saul Alinsky, Obama should wear that comparison like a badge of honor.
Newt Gingrich fears a Jewish, politically independent community organizer who helped the poor, improved democracy, helped both blacks and whites, and hated Nazis and Communists. Can we then assume that Gingrich is an ultra-conservative Christian extremist and white supremacist who wants to bring corporate and religious fascism down upon America? Because that’s the only reason why Newt Gingrich would be so frightened of Saul Alinsky.
Alinsky changed American democracy by adding the voices of the previously ignored and unheard, which only makes our democracy stronger and more inclusive. This is what makes our system the envy of the world. This is why people come here to build themselves a better life and to be included, counted, and heard. Apparently, Newt Gingrich hates the fact that the poor have a voice in America. If Gingrich or any other Republican candidate were to become President, the poor would once again be quashed under the boot heel of a conservative corporate coalition whose only goals are to fleece the American people and dismantle the Constitution. The people have the right to organize and protest. That right is protected by the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers, whom conservatives claim to revere. So why do they hate poor people so much when they protest? Why do they seek to limit democracy to only the white, wealthy few? Conservatives have no clue what real democracy is. They only want power and greed and that means they have to attack the masses and strip them of their voice and their vote. That’s why we, as Americans, must rise up and make our voices heard. That’s why we, as Americans, must vote. So I believe I speak for a majority of Americans, including the poor, when I say, in the words of Saul Alinsky, we “love this goddamn country, and we’re going to take it back.”