I came across a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe written by L. David Alinsky, son of community-organizing pioneer Saul Alinsky. It’s worth reading what the son has to say about his father’s disciple, Barack Obama:
All the elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd’s chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.
Barack Obama’s training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.
I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.
A curious coincidence: Saul Alinsky’s 100th birthday — in January 2009 — coincides with the start of the new president’s term in office. By then, we’ll have seen just how far Alinsky’s methods take the former community organizer, now Demoocratic standard-bearer.