Going a Little Alinsky

computerhandLast year, I picked up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which is the handbook for political action of the American left. I actually enjoyed the book quite a bit, and despite the fact that I disagree with Alinsky’s politics, it’s a very insightful handbook for political action in general, and the lessons taught are not at all limited to action on behalf of traditionally left-wing causes. Take this bit from the preface:

In the midst of the gassing and violence by the Chicago Police and National Guard during the 1968 Democratic Convention, many students asked me “Do you still believe we should try to work inside our system?”

These were students who had been with Eugene McCarthy in New Hampshire and followed him across the country. Some had been with Robert Kennedy when he was killed in Los Angeles. Many of the tears that were shed in Chicago were not from gas. “Mr. Alinsky, we fought in primary after primary and the people voted no on Vietnam. Look at that convention. They’re not paying any attention to the vote. Look at your police and the Army. You still want us to work in the system?”

It hurt me to see the American Army with drawn bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the answer I gave the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: “Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for youselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing — but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.”

Sometimes we all need to be reminded that with some effort, we actually can make a difference. Even at the federal level, we’ve seen major issues come down to the votes of one or two lawmakers. Swinging the races in individual districts is hardly an impossible task. In fact, with a group of dedicated activists, it can be much easier than people realize.

The book is littered with quotes and wisdom that are just as relevant to Second Amendment rights as they are to other causes. As much as this book may be a considered a tome of the left, I think it’s something anyone who wants to make a difference should read.

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