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Obama Campaign Is Modeled On Alinsky

From a year old story from the archives of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Jocelyn Woodards, director of Camp Obama, trains Barack Obama supporters Sunday to campaign for the Illinois senator.

‘Ruthless’ for Obama

WEST LOOP | Intensive course gets volunteers fired up, turns them into activists

September 4, 2007

BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter/apallasch@suntimes.com

“The next tip is to be absolutely ruthless,” Jocelyn Woodards tells the campers. “We want you to be determined, ambitious, take a risk.”

No toasted marshmallows here. This is the second day of Camp Obama, a two-day (sometimes four-day) intensive training course in becoming an activist to help get Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) elected president.

“It’s not enough for you to be a supporter of Barack. You have to go out and build an organization that will deliver votes for Barack Obama,” Woodards tells the 40 campers — most in their 20s — from around the country gathered at the campaign’s national headquarters in the West Loop.

Obama is not like other candidates, and part of this training is learning to mimic the methods he used before he was an elected official — back when he was a community organizer in Chicago following the textbook of legendary agitator Saul Alinsky.

Saul Alinsky wanted results

Rivals of Obama know that while he may at times appear to channel Martin Luther King Jr., his methods sometimes give evidence of his allegiance to Alinsky, who shunned starry-eyed idealists and recommended purging do-gooders from organizations. Alinsky wanted results. And his methods often forced the hands of elected officials.

It’s not enough to want to help others, Woodards says. These campers need to focus on people’s self-interests. What do they want? How can Obama help them?

“We want you to stop thinking about Barack Obama and be Barack Obama,” she says.

“What do you want?” Woodards asks Katie Murphy, 30, of Bartlett. Since her son was born with a heart defect 10 months ago, Murphy has had to stay home to give him constant care and fight with the insurance company about what expenses are and are not covered. Murphy wants a better national health-care plan.

“I want my brother to come back from Baghdad,” says Kris Kolky, 26, of Michigan, who just finished law school.

There are campers from Maine and California, African immigrants and a woman from Kentucky who was considering leaving the country as her job went non-union and her pay dropped from $12 to $10 an hour. They have paid their way to Chicago because they think Obama can be an agent of change.

Woodards, an Obama campaign staffer who used to work for the Democratic National Committee, tells the campers to break up into groups of two and spend 20 minutes at a time just listening to each other.

“Listening, listening, listening. Listening is the No. 1 tool,” she says. They hold a mock Iowa caucus in which campers learn to try to lure other candidates’ supporters to Obama during re-alignment periods.

Whether they are going on to Iowa or other early primary states or back to their home states or neighborhoods, they need to start pinpointing community leaders and clergy, and start building an actual organization, Woodards tells them.

Building alliances

Just about all the candidates’ campaigns do some version of this volunteer training but others don’t have the candidates’ own backgrounds to draw on in mapping out the training regimen. Alinsky had been dead for a decade when Obama came to organize in Chicago in the ’80s, but his disciples were here ready to train him as Woodards is ready to train the volunteers.

“The first thing I did when I came back to Arizona was to join a volunteer group called Arizonans for Obama,” said Alice Cho, a graduate of a camp held here two weeks ago. She has been going to every informal Democratic gathering she can in her up-to-now very Republican state, passing out Obama buttons and trying to build relationships and a structure that will last beyond this election.

And behold some of the fruit of these camps, from the Obama campaign’s Illinois HQ Blog:

Camp Obama – Normal, IL

By Adam Hitchcock – Sep 29th, 2007

Jonathan Moore, the Illinois State University SFBO Chapter Coordinator, wanted to share his experience at the Camp Obama sessions in Normal, IL …

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Camp Obama in Normal, IL. Being new to the world of campaign politics and campaign organizing, I really found the Camp to be incredibly helpful. Currently, I am the Illinois State University SFBO Chapter Coordinator and a lot of what I do revolves around community and campus organizing. I couldn’t possibly put into words the value that I obtained from Camp Obama. The training program taught me the ABC’s of how to be an effective community organizer.

I was fortunate enough to hear from Mr. Mike Kruglig, who is the man that gave a young Barack Obama his first opportunity as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago. I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Kruglig early before the Camp started. While we waited for the Bone Student Center to open its doors, Mr. Kruglig spoke to me about the importance of being able to connect with people. One of the most important skills of a community organizer is to be able to tap into each individual’s self-interest. He told me that Barack was gifted at this and that it is one of the reasons he has become so successful and so well-liked in our country.

These points were later reiterated during Camp Obama, and these are the skills that I believe will help me become a more effective community organizer.

I also had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Tari Renner from Illinois Wesleyan University. Dr. Renner explained the science of the election process and gave us an outline of what our goals should be as community organizers for Sen. Obama. Then we heard from some of the Policy Department staff led by Mr. Larry Strickling. They gave us a wealth of information about the positions that Sen. Obama has taken a wide-range of issues facing our country. This was very helpful for when we go canvassing in states such as Iowa, because we have heard from the policy team directly and we’ll be able to communicate the campaign’s message more clearly and comprehensively.

The Camp Obama organizers even ran a Mock Caucus that the attendees really enjoyed. It was very exciting and chaotic and it got me motivated for the actual January Caucus in Iowa.

The best part about our Camp Obama in Normal, was the people. I met so many wonderful supporters who were all giving up a weekend to come and learn from some of the best and the brightest about how they can best help Senator Barack Obama get elected President of the United States. I was able to meet with other Chapter Coordinators from around Central and Southern Illinois like, Alex Enyart from Knox College, Anna Ruch from Bradley University, and Carolyn Hull from Illinois Wesleyan University. I look forward to keeping in touch with all of them so we can share our stories, advice, ideas, and generally brainstorm with each other.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to put this entire thing together. I thought Jocelyn Woodards, Director of Camp Obama, did a fantastic job putting so many intelligent and hard working people (both speakers and attendees) and coordinating their efforts to grow this grassroots movement. I can’t imagine how much work went into putting it all together and I want to personally thank her for it.

Attending this Camp Obama training program was a life changing experience and it began my evolution from a Barack Obama supporter and volunteer to a Barack Obama organizer. So, I hope to take all I learned from Camp Obama and put it into practice here at Illinois State University. So I’m FIRED UP and I’m READY TO GO! And I think Barack Obama and his community of organizers are ready to shake up the world!

And, yes, all of the tactics described are right out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals.”

Ms. Woodward and the rest of the professional street agitators are teaching these kids exactly the same thing Mr. Obama taught his charges when he worked for ACORN’s notorious “Project Vote.”

They are the same “tactics” Obama went on to use for his first campaign, and every campaign since.

Of course these four-day Alinsky training courses are done in coordination with all the usual suspects:

(Click images to enlarge)

These indoctrination centers have been set up all over the country — in Illinois, California, Nevada, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina…

No wonder the Hillary people didn’t know what hit them in the caucuses. (Which is quite ironic considering that she too is an Alinsky acolyte.)

Let’s hope that the McCain campaign is better prepared.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, September 28th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Obama Campaign Is Modeled On Alinsky”

  1. wardmama4 says:

    -‘a woman from Kentucky who was considering leaving the country as her job went non-union and her pay dropped from $12 to $10 an hour.’-

    Two things:
    1) Apparently, like all good Democrats/Liberals Obama scrapes the bottom of the barrel to find people who will whine about anything.
    2) Where in the World does Ms Kentucky think she is going to get a job that pays more than $10./hr? And in KY you can actually live on that ok in the cities – well in the rural areas.

    Sorry – I am getting so sick and tired of high school dropouts – the lazy, illiterate and just plain ignorant expecting to retire with a gold plated parachute – when all they’ve done is wait tables at Denny’s or changed the oil at Jiffy Lube. Of course most are expecting it on other peoples dime – first their kids education, then their healthcare and then their housing – and yet they continue to wonder why everything is more expensive and the economy is in the toilet, swirling toward the drain.

    These ‘organized campers for Obama’ had best stay far, far away from me – I have no tolerance for Stuck On Stupid anymore.

  2. Steve says:

    For a laugh, look at how National Public Radio whitewashed these indoctrination camps:

    ‘Camp Obama’ Trains Campaign Volunteers : NPR

  3. suscepit says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if these societal hangers-on will disappear faster after Big Earz loses, or if he wins and turns into a Syrian- or Romanian-style tyrant with camps and purges and real-world rough-and-tumble. Either way they lose their usefulness for him the day after the election … unless he’s got a stadium full of fresh new Brown Shirts.

  4. Reality Bytes says:

    Imagine what America could be like if these people put as much passion into their country as they do for their candidate.

    If Obama is elected, what’s the translation for Crystal Nacht?

  5. therightguy says:

    It sounds a lot like the hitler youth or a communist re-education camp. So should we expect a gulag Obama after November 4 if he gets elected? This is not only disgusting, but totally ignored by the lamestream media. I know I will do my part to bring this to the fore. Thanks for the article.

    The Right Guy

  6. Helena says:

    I keep hearing all this crapola about how Obamites are interested in “the issues.” But all I see on these CampObama threads and in the Alinsky playbook is about “how to frame your story.” This apparently translates to how to make a strictly emotional appeal (tears are good, sobs are better) to the fears and desires of potential voters to convince them that you are on their side and that Obama is on their side, and is in fact, their only chance.

    Look at the info on the classroom boards (and notice, btw, how many of the classes are held in union halls) YOUR STORY – Which “story” was the most compelling? – How will you change “your story” after hearing the others today?, etc. They should all become excellent used car salesmen.

  7. 1sttofight says:

    Wonder how long those young white chicks will last in the black housing projects which is where they will be working.?

  8. Steve says:

    “Look at the info on the classroom boards (and notice, btw, how many of the classes are held in union halls) YOUR STORY – Which “story” was the most compelling? – How will you change “your story” after hearing the others today?, etc. They should all become excellent used car salesmen.”

    As Alinsky taught, the issues matter not one jot. There is no right or wrong. No morality, no values. Everything is relative.

    Like Lenin, all Alinksy was concerned about is power. Everything else is seen as a means to that.

    So these kids are being taught to say anything to get someone to vote for Obama. Which is exactly what the candidate himself is doing.

  9. 1sttofight says:

    Ah, now I understand Obama. You do not have to accomplish anything in your life as long as you have a good story.

  10. JohnMG says:

    1sttofight; …..”You do not have to accomplish anything in your life as long as you have a good story……”

    Corollary: Irrespective of how insignificant any accomplishments in your life may have been, we can make them seem/sound noteworthy.

  11. 1sttofight says:

    You sure can John but only if you are truth challenged.

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