Conservative Rules for Radicals Prologue

April 14, 2009 by Lisa Krempasky  
Filed under Politics

As one who wants to change my culture and my nation I thought I would look at a classic manual on how to do just that. In the 70s Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicalsto teach a generation of liberals how to effectively change their culture. Though I don’t agree with the change they sought, the message of how to change a culture is as valid today as it was then. This is part 1 in a series reviewing Alinsky’s Rulesand applying them to conservative principles for today.


Conservatives are angry these days. We feel powerless and exploited. Honestly we feel we are being led by the blind. That is how liberals felt in the 1960s. The striking similarity is amazing. They felt powerless. We feel powerless. They felt they needed change now. We feel we need change now. Radical elements run a risk of turning off the masses of people that are needed for any movement to affect change. So what are the overarching principles to permanent change?

1. You’ve got to understand people. People act in their own self interest. To be effective you must show them how your message benefits them. It is irrelevant how the message benefits you or anyone else. People must have their own skin in the game and must understand that failure to act has a specific and direct unintended consequence to them personally.

2. Don’t do stupid stuff. In the 1960s it was flag burning. To the radical flag burning represented a no compromise stance. To the everyday person flag burning represented anger, intimidation and disrespect. Instead of listening to the message behind the flag burning the everyday person could not see past the act itself. People who might have otherwise been persuaded by valid points shut down and did not even listen to the argument because of their dislike for the act of flag burning.

3. Get an ideal people will organize around. It’s not enough to just understand people. You’ve got to motivate them. The message has to be simple and clear. The action you ask of people must be easy to incorporate into their lives. It takes a lot to get people to commit to do something. Make your message as easy as possible. Activate people by making it simple for the masses to participate. Write a sample email so they don’t have to think of wording themselves. Provide a link and the email addresses in easy format. Show them how they can take the action you request while they are doing something else they are already doing.

4. Work from within the system. The GOP is presently struggling over this very concept. Some are ready to bolt and start a new party because the GOP is too much like the democrats. That is a good and viable option, but it takes much more work, money and energy. If instead conservatives can work within the GOP and win the war of ideals the same work, money and energy that would be used to start a new party could be used to reach further and deeper within the present party structure. The same is true for all change. Working within the present structure whether it be a govenrment, an educational institution or other gives you the power structure to actually see your change come into being.

5. Be patient. Rome was not built in a day. Liberals have been on a steady march forward for generations and have had a long range strategy and plan for at least 40 years. We cannot expect to undo this by 2010 or 2012. We must be in this for the long haul. We must work everyday toward the goal of a free America with a limited government. We cannot rest on our laurels but must keep striving and striving so that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can reap the rewards of our labor.

6. Don’t abdicate. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke. We got in the position we are in because we were busy with our own lives. Just like the frog put in the pot of cold water on the stove we didn’t even notice as the heat was being turned up. Now we are nearing full boil and in order to save ourselves and this great nation we must take back the reigns. We must take action. We must make our voices heard. Now is the time! This is the day! Do not stand by silent for another moment bemoaning the way things are. Plug in to a cause and make a difference.

Alinsky’s prologue is summed up in the following quote.

Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives — agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.

In part 2 we will identify the problem and the parties need to obtain a solution to the problem.