How Saul Alinsky Can Rescue the Biden Administration From Political Annihilation
by Ralph Benko
(This article originally appeared 09/20/2021 on Newsmax.)
Can President Biden avert a crushing legislative defeat that would terminate his honeymoon and effectively paralyze his presidency? It’s a dramatic moment.
The Sunday New York Times lead story on September 19 by Jim Tankersley lays bare the high stakes:
“No president has ever packed as much of his agenda, domestic and foreign, into a single piece of legislation as President Biden has with the $3.5 trillion spending plan that Democrats are trying to wrangle through Congress over the next six weeks.
The bill combines major initiatives on the economy, education, social welfare, climate change and foreign policy, funded in large part by an extensive rewrite of the tax code, which aims to bring in trillions from corporations and the rich.
That stacking of priorities has raised the stakes for a president resting his ambitions on a bill that could fail over the smallest of intraparty disputes. … But the sheer scope of its contents has opened divisions among Democrats on multiple fronts, when Mr. Biden cannot afford to lose a single vote in the Senate and no more than three votes in the House.”
To compound matters the House progressive caucus has taken Biden’s signature legislative priority, the $1.5 trillion bipartisan “infrastructure” bill, hostage. They are demanding a simultaneous vote on their $3.5 trillion pink pork monstrosity.
If the progressives don’t flinch, their threat is to kill the hostage infrastructure bill if they don’t get what they want. That would effectively end Joe Biden’s presidency, converting him to caregiver in chief.
Meanwhile, if the $3.5 trillion pink pork monster passes it likely will lose him his House and Senate majorities next year. Sacrificed to the Revolution!
Why such an ambitious but fraught gambit? Because Biden can’t afford a revolt by his party’s progressive base.
Biden is not unsympathetic to the progressive agenda. Neither is he dogmatic about it.
Biden’s plan seems to be to pacify his fanatics by supporting their agenda while counting on Sens. Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sinema, D-Ariz., to stop it. That will shield him from the left’s fury while blunting the ire of the voters.
Shrewd. But now his legislative baby has been taken hostage.
What’s a president to do? Saul Alinsky to the rescue!
The House Democrats are blurring the crucial distinction between “radical” (a good thing, meaning “at the root”) and “fanatical,” a bad thing. By walking that back Biden can keep his presidency from going over the cliff.
Time for Joe Biden to consult his base’s holy scripture, “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky. The subtitle? “A practical primer for realistic radicals.”
Alinsky there wrote:
“I detest and fear dogma. I know that all revolutions must have ideologies to spur them on. That in the heat of conflict these ideologies tend to be smelted into rigid dogmas claiming exclusive possession of the truth, and the keys to paradise, is tragic.
Dogma is the enemy of human freedom. Dogma must be watched for and apprehended at every turn and twist of the revolutionary movement.
The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with complete certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice. Those who enshrine the poor or Have-Nots are as guilty as other dogmatists and just as dangerous.”
He went on,
“…to the organizer, compromise is a key and beautiful word. It is always present in the pragmatics of operation. It is making the deal, getting that vital breather, usually the victory.
If you start with nothing, demand 100 per cent, then compromise for 30 per cent, you’re 30 per cent ahead.
A free and open society is an on-going conflict, interrupted periodically by compromises — which then become the start for the continuation of conflict, compromise, and on ad infinitum. Control of power is based on compromise in our Congress and among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A society devoid of compromise is totalitarian.
If I had to define a free and open society in one word, the word would be ‘compromise.'”
I wish America well and thus, despite our several disagreements, wish President Biden well.
So, I call upon presidential Senior Adviser Cedric Richmond to remind the president of the radical Saul Alinsky’s counsel of practicality.
I then urge them to invite that great pragmatic radical in House leadership, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., to the Oval for a chat with the president to refresh Raskin’s recollection of Alinsky (a worthy posthumous candidate for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, while at it) equipping Raskin to coach Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., to abandon fanaticism and embrace radicalism.
Take the 30% win. Pocket the bipartisan “infrastructure” deal which itself holds abundant pink pork.
Heed Alinsky’s “practical primer for realistic radicals.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ralph Benko, a Reagan White House junior official, Kemp-era supply-sider, founder of the Prosperity Caucus and the Prosperity Coalition, and editor-in-chief of the Supply Side Blog, is the co-founder and chairman of The Capitalist League , author of The Ten Commandments of Capitalism, and co-author of The Capitalist Manifesto and Redefining the Future of the Economy. Ralph is an advisor and regular contributor to The Transpartisan Review.