Commentary by Kay B. Day
A perfect example of why I pay to read The Wall Street Journal can be found in a Thursday editorial by Kimberley A. Strassel. Strassel’s essay, ‘The Chicago Way,’ is a tightly written piece of prose. She draws analogies between the current Democrat approach to governing and traditional Chicago politics by using select lines from the classic film ‘The Untouchables.’ As I read the essay, another writer’s words came to mind, only this writer is a beacon for the left and a target misunderstood by the right. That writer would be Saul Alinsky whose book ‘Rules for Radicals’ is often cited as a holy tome for neoliberal strategizing.
Strassel addresses Democrats’ vilification of the Chamber of Commerce, writing, “In recent weeks the Windy City gang added a new name to their list of societal offenders: the Chamber of Commerce. For the cheek of disagreeing with Democrats on climate and financial regulation, it was reported the Oval Office will neuter the business lobby. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett slammed the outfit as "old school," and warned CEOs they'd be wise to seek better protection.” [Story continues after photo.]
The Democrat Party pitches its brand as a ‘Party of the People’—you have no idea how many Dem voters have used that label when they tell me why they vote for the party’s candidates in every election. I am surrounded, by the way, with friends and family members who vote Dem. I’ve often wondered where the brand came from; I found a book using the descriptive in a title. The book is a history of the Democrat Party.
Supporters often tell me Republicans are the party of big corporations and country clubs even though those same supporters know I don’t run a big corporation and I don’t belong to a country club. And those same supporters are confounded when I say Democrat-loving General Electric, Google, hedge funds, banks, and who knows how many other powerful interests aren’t exactly in the category of small businesses. Lump in labor unions and there’s a power structure backed by no small amount of hardcore green.
Corporations are just like those of us on Main Street—they pick their party based on self-interests. I see nothing wrong with that, by the way, but I do appreciate honesty in political branding.
And this brings Alinsky to mind. Alinsky’s ‘Rules’ is a book I’d highly recommend for conservatives. The author was admittedly slightly off his collectivist rocker but aren’t all creatives a wee bit strange?
Alinsky, who wasn't so much a fan of communism but a fan of power, emphasizes the significance of the middle class in effecting change. Alinksy emphasizes that significance at the same time he demonizes the members, depicting us as “materialistic,decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering…” and a number of other unpleasant adjectives. [Pg. 185] Alinsky in my opinion views the middle class exactly the same as the Democrat Party—a ‘we don’t like you but we gotta have you’ approach followed by a ‘we’re gonna suck you dry’ approach.
But more interesting is an excerpt from Alinsky’s analysis of ‘The Ideology of Change.’ He asks, ‘What kind of ideology, if any, can an organizer have who is working in and for a free society? The prerequisite for an ideology is possession of a basic truth. For example, a Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order or the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage—the political paradise of communism.” [pg. 10]
Today’s Democrat would replace the ‘exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists’ with the exploitation of the proletariat by tax-levying, freedom-usurping, liberty-thumping big government. The difference is the capitalist will not tell you what to eat, and he will not want to put you in jail for not purchasing health insurance. Nor would the capitalist place a smart meter in your home and zap your power level when, say, Florida temperatures reach 100 degrees and you’re ramping the thermostat down to a level that makes you feel rather like a popsicle.
Today’s Democrat does that by waging political war on select business interests and the Party’s arch-old nemisis the GOP. Our president declared we Republicans do as we’re told even as his own party marches in perfect uniformity when big votes come due. To do otherwise is to face those Chicago political tactics Strassel writes about in well-crafted language contained in a very creative presentation.
Alinsky, while he dissed community organizers who didn’t hang around long enough to fulfill their promises, would certainly approve of the governing style of today’s Democrats. And Strassel hits the nail on the noggin—literally—in her ‘Untouchables’ analysis.
Meanwhile any number of Republicans, myself included, are not ‘doing as we’re told.’ If we did, all party members would have voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and there would be no Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
Wall Street Journal analysis on Chicago-style politics evokes Alinsky
by Kay B. Day
The US Report (Oct. 23, 2009)