Saul Alinsky: Who He Is & Why Newt Gingrich Is Just Jealous

gingrichPresidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been talking about Saul Alinsky a lot lately. You'd almost think he's obsessed with the man. But all this Alinsky name-dropping has a lot of Americans scratching their noggins and Googling his name. Who is he, and why is Gingrich comparing him with Obama?

Saul Alinsky is a community organizer from Chicago who died about 40 years ago. And I'm actually a little baffled as to why Gingrich is so determined to paint him as a bad guy. If anything, Obama should be taking the comparison as a compliment.

Advertisement

The Saul Alinsky Newt seems to want you to see is a dangerous rabble-rouser. "Saul Alinsky radialism is at the heart of (President Barack) Obama," he tells us. And Alinksy actually wrote the book on radicalism -- literally -- Rules for Radicalism. But the real radicalism of Alinsky was that he spent his entire life helping poor people find their voice and demand changes that would improve their lives. It was a radical idea then -- is it still, now?

Alinsky was born in an Orthodox Jewish home. After giving up his dream of being an archaeologist, he began working to improve living conditions in the slums of Chicago. The Illinois governor once said his work faithfully reflected "our ideals of tolerance, charity, and dignity of the individual."

Alinsky was definitely anti-establishment -- if by anti-establishment you mean the philosophy that it's wrong for people in power to protect their own self-interests at the expense of the powerless. His methods were provocative -- but they've been adopted by politicians and organizers on both ends of the political spectrum.

Conservative Freedom Works spokesman Adam Brandon has said his group hands out Rules for Radicals to Tea Party leaders. And even arch-conservative William F. Buckley admired Alinsky as "very close to being an organizational genius."

Guess who else is anti-establishment? Newt Gingrich said on NBC's Meet the Press that he owed his victory in South Carolina to the pain people are feeling from the ailing economy and to the "level of anger at the national establishment," which he claims no one in New York or Washington gets. Classic Alinksy. He took a page right out of his book. I think if anything, I suspect Newt has a secret Historian Man-Crush on Saul Alinksy.

Did you know who Saul Alinksy was before Newt Gingrich started mentioning him?

 

Image via Don3rdSE/CafeMomMomsMatter2012/Flickr

Read More >