LOPEZ: Why is Saul Alinsky important? Still?
OBENSHAIN: You bet he is. If we had understood him four years ago, we as a nation might not be in the mess we find ourselves in today. Understand Saul Alinsky, and what the president is doing in creating deep, lasting divisions between us becomes crystal clear.
Alinsky’s philosophy, as outlined in his Rules for Radicals, was Obama’s guide as a community organizer. He wrote that it was a community organizer’s task to take “apathetic workers” and stir discontent with the status quo, fanning “resentments and hostilities by a number of means.” Obama was very good at this, earning the reputation as the “undisputed master of agitation.” The community organizer would keep their ideology cloaked so they would be perceived as seeking commonsense, not political, goals. But they would use the discontent and ire they stirred up to drive through their political goals without a lot of discussion or debate about the actual merits of those goals. The frothing discontent and mistrust of the people was enough to drive it through.
I wrote a chapter in my book called “The Community Organizer President” because clearly Obama took those rules to the White House. I think it’s critical that we understand this president’s strategy and how he is literally playing us, so that we can effectively expose the strategy for what it is, before the ultimate political goals are achieved.
LOPEZ: How was the Affordable Care Act a “flashpoint for Obama’s divisiveness”?
OBENSHAIN: This was the president who was going to listen to the opposing viewpoint, “especially when we disagree.” He knew how vastly unpopular his Obamacare proposal was, and yet instead of listening, modifying, building consensus, he rammed it through — using false pretense that the mandate was not a tax. (It is, as we knew all along, a half-trillion tax hike on the middle class.) It is just one of the many political objectives, though perhaps the most economically devastating one, that Obama was able to drive through because of the animosity he stoked among the American people. The enemy to be despised were the big, bad insurance companies; Big Pharma; greedy, overpaid doctors; and, of course, as always, Republicans.
We were assured, in one of many pre-election platitudes, that there would be live C-SPAN broadcasts of the Obamacare proceedings. Instead, the deliberations took place behind closed doors with the presence of lobbyists and the notable absence of C-SPAN, Republicans, and the American people. No one knew the full impact of the legislation except that it would mean the government takeover of roughly one-fifth of the American economy.
There was nothing transcendent about the Obamacare debate. It was filled with invective and nastiness, as backroom, lobbyist-driven as they come, and Obama rammed it through by telling the American people it was not a tax (it was), it would lower health-care costs (it didn’t), and it was part of their fair share (only if fair share means getting screwed).