Trump is Using Alinsky Tactics to Attack Opponents

Trump is Using Alinsky Tactics to Attack Opponents

Trump is Using Alinsky Tactics to Attack Opponents

Remember the days back in 2009 and 2010 when the Tea Party was just starting to be heard? We learned about the work of Saul Alinsky, a radical “community organizer” who influenced Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We learned about his “Rules for Radicals,” which were intended to stir up class warfare and to instruct the “Have-Nots on how to take it (power) away.”


While Donald Trump is certainly not trying to incite his followers to ‘fight power and privilege’ in the way that Alinsky envisioned, he is employing some of the same tactics of the late radical.

Let’s look at the rules Trump seems to be employing to dispatch his political nemeses, and, in particular, Senator Ted Cruz.

  • Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

Trump has been attacking Cruz not only on his supposed “questionable” eligibility status, but has also been referencing Cruz’s loans he borrowed from Goldman-Sachs against his assets in order to fund his senatorial race in 2012. He insists they’re illegal and that “what he did was wrong,” even “worse than Hillary.”

Legal Insurrection points out that both websites Open Secrets and Roll Call reported in 2013 that the loans were filed with the Senate, but inadvertently left off the Federal Election Commission forms. It was not a secret, it was a mistake, and certainly not illegal.

Columnist Phil Kerpen discovered the filing form from 2012 and published it at Twitter.

But Cruz must be kept to an impossible standard, says the guy who launched the possibly fraudulent “Trump University,” in 2005, which supposedly promised success in real estate through Trump’s courses. Trump University ran until 2010, and has been slapped with lawsuits for “bait-and-switch” tactics.

Let’s continue.

  • Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

Everyone knows how Trump relishes ridiculing people, calling them “losers” on Twitter. Here is his opus from early Thursday morning.

That looks more like the work on a college freshman with a freshly acquired leftist attitude and a new version of Photoshop, not the sober statement of a Presidential candidate. But this is Trump, and he loves nothing more than to ridicule his opponent. Definitely an Alinsky tactic.

  • Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

Trump is a multi-tasker when it comes to picking targets, personalizing his attacks, and polarizing his opponents. Here are some of his tweets just from Thursday.

On Jeb Bush:

On Glenn Beck:

On former President George H.W. Bush Chief of Staff John Sununu:

These Alinsky-lite tactics of Trump do have their desired outcome, however. They serve to rile up a following which is out for blood, not for temperate debate on issues. The Trump campaign reminds me of the movie Gladiator, in which the crowd is thrilled to watch as Maximus dispatches several foes in the arena.

Only Trump is not like the hero Maximus, who is disgusted at his status as gladiator, and fights to get vengeance for the murder of his family. Maximus also sacrificed himself to save his nation.

Trump is more like the antagonist in the movie, the evil emperor Commodus, who is mad for power, strikes down anyone in his way, and who relishes the chaos in the arena.


The brilliant and wise Thomas Sowell published a column yesterday in which he questions whether Republican voters will choose the emotional release provided by Trump, or wiser leadership. He warns:

That ultimate question is in the hands of Republicans who will soon begin voting in the primaries. Their anger may be justified, but anger is not sufficient reason for choosing a candidate in a desperate time for the future of this nation. And there is such a thing as a point of no return.
Voters need to consider what elections are for. Elections are not held to allow voters to vent their emotions. They are held to choose who shall hold in their hands the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans today and of generations yet unborn.

Do we want to nominate a Presidential candidate who uses Alinsky tactics in order to feed on the raw emotions of disaffected and righteously angry conservatives? As Sowell points out, “the Republicans have fielded a stronger set of presidential aspirants than they have had in years.” Donald Trump is not worthy of any conservative’s consideration.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Nina says:

    …”a temperate debate on the issues.” said no follower of Trump ever.

    It is a temperate, reasoned, and critical thinking (remember what that is) debate that we need NOW more than ever. I truly don’t think we’ll get that from Trump.

    • Optimizer says:

      1) Perhaps you’re missing the point that after countless years of “failure theater”, where the establishment Republicans always have an excuse for why they won’t fight for anything they supposedly believe in, they are simply not to be believed,no matter what they say. Failure to pursue simple, basic border security for the last 35+ years is a good example., but their refusal to even try to leverage the “power of the purse” is a recent one. Beyond that, the mask has come off in recent weeks as they openly deride the majority of their own party for not accepting liberal, politically-correct values. Elitists are all the same, it turns out.

      2) I can think of at least 2 “Trump was was right” cases where his stance originally sounded wrong, but after “reasoned debate” he was shown to be right. one was his challenge to the idea that the 14th Amendment says that being born here guarantees citizenship to the children of foreigners. Another was the idea of temporarily banning Muslim immigration.

      So, “gimme a break”.

    • GWB says:

      I honestly don’t think a reasoned debate will achieve anything at this point. The electorate has way too many who will simply vote as Gimmee-Dats. We *can NOT* revive this nation at the ballot box if those people are allowed to vote. Since we’ve made it a point that we can’t prevent them from voting, we simply can’t proceed as free people without a great divorce.

      If the desire is to smash it all – sooner rather than later – then Trump will help toward that. If your desire is to slow and maybe partially reverse the descent, then Cruz is probably the best you can do. I don’t think Trump will help that.

  • Optimizer says:

    I’d say that’s a bad example for #4, but a PERFECT example is when he mortally wounded Hillary by pointing out that she was an enabler for a sexual predator, even as she climbed on board with the idea that an accusing woman must automatically be believed.

    As to #5, he’s been picking ’em off, one by one with THAT one.

    As to the question of whether we want the guy who can do this, I would turn it around and ask, “Do we want the chump who can be DEFEATED so easily by this?” Really, I’d be concerned, but in everything I’ve seen in Trumps’ history, he is unapologetically pro-US, and mostly focused on being universally pissed off at how other countries have outplayed us. He’s pragmatic and patriotic, not some sort of Lenin, Hitler – or Alynski – type.

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