Where Have You Gone, Saul Alinksy?

       California needs a knight in shining armor to deliver it from the forces of budget shortfalls, program cuts, and sub-15% legislative approval ratings.

       At first, I thought our hope was Gavin Newsom, but his departure from the Governor’s race leaves a handful of candidates on both sides that seem inherently opposed to doing the one thing that could save this state: raising revenue.

      So, who is going to carry the baton? Where is our saving grace, and when will he/she hurry their butt up and save us from sinking further and further into debt and depression?

     One person who could posthumanly save the State of California is Saul Alinsky. Deemed by many as the “father of community organizing”, Alinsky helped organize the Back of the Yards area of Chicago introduced to the national stage by Sinclair’s “The Jungle”.

      Alinsky passed away in 1972 (in Carmel-By-The-Sea), but his revolutionary tactics for mobilizing the masses have time and time again generated the true catalyst for change: Friction. Given the current economic situation in this state, Lord knows we need something.


       According to PPIC, the average income for a family of four in the lowest 10% bracket dropped 24% to just above $11,000 between 1967 and 1994, while the income for a family of four in the top 10% rose 35% to over $110,000. This was the situation in 1994. I don’t have numbers for more recently, but one can only imagine.  

       In times like this, when the gap between rich and poor is widening at an increasingly alarming rate, it is imperative that we create some friction. We are now beyond the point of using words like “if” and “should”. Rather, we need to use democracy to our advantage to get rid of the anti-tax BS that, to use a strong but justified word, oppresses working Californians and limits their access to life, liberty, and slows their pursuit of happiness.

       The goal, then, needs to be to educate Californians that revenue supports the programs that provide and create more diffusible social classes, and hence, that make the California Dream a reality.

       We’re not asking for a miracle, we’re only asking that people who are hurt by program cuts recognize this and mobilize to protect their interests!

This is the struggle that encompasses almost all Californians. The middle class suburban family in the Bay Area relies on K-12 education just as much as the immigrant family from the Imperial Valley does. The elderly couple that lost their eligibility for Medicare is hurt just as badly as the state worker who is furloughed four days a month and on top of that has to pay 32% more to send their kid to a UC, CSU, or Community College. Why are these people given the bill while Chevron pays $0.00/year to drill oil from the earth and Bank of America is able to raise interest rates at their own whim? More importantly, why are Californians letting this happen when it so obviously against their best interests?

       So, what do you think, Saul Alinsky?


This, then, is our real job-the opportunity to work directly with our people. It is the breaking down of the feeling on the part of our people that they are social automatons with no stake in the future, rather than human beings in possession of all the responsibility, strength, and human dignity which constitute the heritage of free citizens of a democracy. This can be done only through the democratic organization of our people for democracy.

-Saul Alinsky, 1969.

       Sacramento has made it apparent that it isn’t going to make any real attempt at reforming itself. That said, we live in a democracy, and if we can make the point that change isn’t an option, it is a necessity, then maybe we’ll see some action from our electeds.

       So, it’s not Saul Alinsky we’re waiting for; we’re waiting for the People of California to wake up and take their state back. I’m ready.

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