09 Jun 2008

Obama’s Fund-Raising Techniques

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Obama defeated Hillary by out-spending her, which he was able to do by raising staggering and stupendous mountains of money. How did he do that?

Kyle-Anne Shiver explains that Obama raised his cash using the organizing techniques of leftist Saul Alinsky with a little help from FaceBook.

During this campaign season, Barack Obama has raised such unprecedented mountains of cash that he has broken every record in the annals of political fundraising. It’s enough to make him appear a veritable money wizard. If his own “high-flying words” are being “deployed in the service of cynical aims,” his contributors don’t seem aware of it, and the cash keeps rolling in. …

But what exactly is in it for them? What is Obama selling to his contributors that causes them to open their wallets and whip out those Visa cards over and over again?

Obama has appropriated one of the most successful ad campaigns in the history of American advertising and revived it for a voting bloc that has probably never heard of it. The old Prudential tagline from the 1950s and 60s, “Own a piece of the rock,” has become “Own a piece of the Movement,” or sometimes “Own a piece of this campaign.”

This sort of clever manipulation was at the heart of Alinsky-style “community organizing” in the interest of revolutionary change. He taught, through his books and seminars for radical acolytes, how to convince the common folks that the organizer was merely their tool, willingly offering his own time and service so that they could succeed in throwing off the yoke of their masters. This, Alinsky taught, would ingratiate the organizer with the ones he needed to organize.

Alinsky showed how Marxism would take over America, not through violence, but by organizing the power of the vote. Power came from two sources in American society, Alinsky believed: Money and people. If one lacks money, one uses people. Different means, same end. In fact, it was Alinsky himself who advised ‘60s radicals to eschew violence for law degrees and politics. Writing Rules for Radicals a year after the intense riots that accompanied the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Alinsky advised patience, persistence, and working within the system:

    Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. — Rules for Radicals, p. xix

The last 40 years have been merely the prelude, it would seem, to Obama’s candidacy. He’s the man of whom Alinsky and his Marxist acolytes dreamed.

The leftist network within the mainstream media and the various blogs of the 527s has blared a constant message for the past eight years, bashing Bush, Bush’s war, Bush’s economy, Bush’s failures to the people, all to set the stage for the political savior, who has now emerged. The people indeed seem ready for the revolutionary “change” that Alinsky foretold.

If anyone wonders why college campuses are agog with Barack Obama, why the youth are falling all over themselves in their rush to join the movement, one need look no further than to the guru of Facebook, Chris Hughes. Hughes became a full-time member of the campaign early on, and his intimate knowledge of the social network he co-invented has helped Obama accumulate not only all that cash, but more than a million “friends” as well.

Want to get tens of thousands of people to show up at an Obama rally? Go to MyBarackObama.com and tell all your “friends” about it. What may look like magic is just an updated version of: “I’m going. Are you? Everyone who’s anyone will be there.”

Alinsky himself pioneered a non-tech form of this type of manipulation, urging his organizers to use social self-interest as a way to bolster attendance at meetings. But while the Alinsky method involved corralling the most popular community members as leverage, Facebook allows “friends” to connect with “new friends” with the touch of a button, without even having to get out of bed.

For those under 30, Facebook is the high-tech version of the burger joint and the cruising strip of earlier decades, with seemingly limitless possibilities for connecting with other like-minded folks. Using this social network for political power is an Obama first. While Howard Dean used the power of the blogs to temporarily boost his candidacy in 2004, Hughes has created a firestorm of campus support for Obama with a social network that elevates the trivial and encourages the many small contributions that add up to record-breaking numbers.

It’s all in the network; no wizardry here. Just lever-pulling.

Facebook is designed around the shallow and social. Networkers are not “commentators,” as they would be on a blog; they are “friends.” Friends do not need to agree on ideas; they just need to like the same kind of music. Friends do no need to agree on ways to improve society; they just need to like a candidate’s cadence, his body, or his clothes.

As each day of this campaign passes, it becomes more and more like 1968, with the generation gap between young and old emerging as the factor of difference between our candidates. Obama is the Facebook candidate, and he has an awful lot of folks merrily following his yellow brick road. It may lead to the White House, I fear, and Obama may become our very first Wizard in Chief.

4 Feedbacks on "Obama’s Fund-Raising Techniques"

Scott D

Ya gotta learn to use the new media. Republicans had a big advantage because Richard Viguerie was the first to learn how to use direct mail effectively.
Of course, Democrats will always have an advantage in getting crowds to “show up” because they have so many more people who are not busy doing productive things like working full time.

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[…] Jonathan Stein wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptDuring this campaign season, Barack Obama has raised such unprecedented mountains of cash that he has broken every record in the annals of political fundraising. It’s enough to make him appear a veritable money wizard. … […]

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[…] Fund-Raising Techniques Jonathan Stein wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptDuring this campaign season, Barack […]

Janis Blake

Thank you for this article; I’m just learning about Saul Alinsky and Mr. Obama’s connection to him. It’s pretty ironic that Mr. Alinsky sited the founding of our country as begun by radicals, when they were trying desperately to free themselves from an oppressive government; the very type that Mr. Alinsky would perpetrate on the American people. The deception is the really scary part and that the immature university minded people of this country fall for it. Pray, pray, pray!!


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