Seek First to Understand... especially in Politics

Without stating the obvious, this has certainly been a CRAZY week in politics!  As a result, I needed to focus my energy  in a positive fashion... to try to get a handle on the polarization that has become so evident in America today.During this tumultuous political cycle, Saul Alinsky’s name kept popping up, so I did some basic research- Wow, this certainly explains A LOT!  As I see it, his guidelines may be motivation for the continued “US vs THEM” mentality in the United States of America today.While the following tactics (#1-13) may have been an effective plan at the time they were written (1971), I believe that our country has made great strides in equality, accessibility and openness over the last 45 years.  Yet, each time positive strides are made, someone is ready to stir the pot, call names, and poke the bear.

Healing "Us vs. Them"

Childish and counterproductive, especially IF the goal is unification and strengthening of our country.  However, if the covert goal is to keep the wedge between groups of citizens, in order to maintain your voter base, it makes sense that certain politicians continue to use these dated, destructive guidelines.  Personally, I agree with many citizens that it IS time to move forward and NOT “set the country back 50 years” in politics.  To do so in a healthy way, I suggest reframing Alinsky’s divisive tactics and building deep UNITY in our great country.My new “preferred pronoun” is WE… WE are all in this together.  WE are living in the same land under the same Constitution, together.  WE are the United States of America.IF there are changes to be made, WE do so in a respectful manner.  WE do not destroy property when disappointed, frustrated or angry- that may be understandable as a toddler- yet it’s time to grow up as a country.  If WE want to be taken seriously and build long-lasting equality and unity, it must be based on acceptance and understanding, not intimidation.

Rules for Radicals 2.0

Saul Alinsky's,  Rules for Radicals (1971) summary list is noted here- quite the "eye opener".   These original 13 rules and explanations are copied from the Wikipedia link.  Under each one, I have offered an updated suggestion in bold bullets.  My goal is to have us honestly look at how we ended up where we are, and hopefully build a healthier way forward together.

  1. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
  • Power is sourced from within and should be based on courage, not fear.  It should NOT be sourced from money, people, flesh or blood. 

2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

  • Explore the expertise outside of your people; it provides a more inclusive perspective. 

3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

  • There is no enemy. Stop causing insecurity and anxiety.  Talk openly and build consensus by sharing ideas and solutions from a variety of sources. 

4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

  • Again, there is no enemy.  WE in America have one “book of rules”, the Constitution.  It has a plan for change- follow it, and always respect how far it has brought us as a nation.

5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

  • Shaming is NOT acceptable.  If WE plan to live together in harmony, WE must stop “pushing buttons” and strive for healthy solutions and unity. 

6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

  • A good tactic is one that has meaning; if enjoyable, that’s good too!

7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

  • A tactic or approach that has not produced healthy solutions should be discarded. 

8. “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

  • Be persistent and always follow-up.  This should NOT be from the perspective of keeping people off balance, but with the goal of building consensus and solutions. 

9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

  • Threats, really?  Provide solutions and consequences for each discussion point/ grievance.  Remember, WE will all be living together after the endeavor is complete. 

10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition." It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

  • Constant pressure is counterproductive- Too much pressure causes excess stress which often elicits hostile reactions, instead of the desired positive responses. 

11. “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

  • There are positive and negative aspects to every political option.  Be careful what you push forward, as it may get accepted as it stands.  Push forward the POSITIVE!

12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

  • The price of a successful proposition is a constructive alternative.  Never let the rival feel attacked, as they become defensive and communication shuts down.

13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

  • Pick the target goal, seek to understand, don’t make it personal and depolarize the issue.  Only by seeing similarities, building consensus and avoiding extremes can WE heal and build true unity. 

Thanks for taking the time to “listen” to my thoughts about politics and healing.  Ponder them with an open mind and heart.  BTW- The full moon is tomorrow (11/14/16- when originally written)- a great time to release that which no longer serves us… I propose we release the fear, anger and divisiveness and move towards healing and unity.  There is MUCH work to be done!Sent with continued peace, love and light,Lisa