- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2011


Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives last week applied Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” against the state’s Republican majority by walking out to prevent floor action on a right-to-work bill and, when it was withdrawn, by demanding the defeat of 11 other bills. They understand moral victories are like gasoline for their political engine and missteps by the Republicans gave them one. But Republicans can still win this fight by understanding the Democrats’ tactics and focusing on their weaknesses.

The Indiana GOP committed two blunders. When Republicans took up the right-to-work bill, Gov. Mitch Daniels, a fellow Republican, called it a “distraction,” dividing the GOP. Mr. Daniels thought the bill jeopardized his legislative agenda, including education and teachers union collective-bargaining reforms. Six years ago, he had stripped state employee unions of their collective-bargaining power and the ability to collect dues by payroll deduction. He should have focused on the Democrats’ tactics, not on his internal dispute with his own allies in the House over the wisdom of the bill.

The House GOP then unilaterally pulled the bill, giving the Democrats a significant victory. Mr. Daniels‘ entire legislative agenda is threatened. Mr. Daniels said he would not be “bullied or blackmailed,” threatening “special sessions from now to New Year’s” until his bills are voted on. Mr. Daniels was perplexed. Pulling the right-to-work bill should have brought back the Democrats.

But if the governor had read “Rules for Radicals,” which has “influenced a generation of community and labor organizers,” including President Obama, he would have known better.

First, according to Mr. Alinsky, “in war, the end justifies almost any means.”

The Democrats understand that union power is one of the four pillars of support of their party. More union power means more government workers, more “volunteer” campaign workers and more union dues for campaign money for the Democrats. Many of Mr. Daniels‘ proposals threaten that power, so any means is justified to stop them.

Second, “selecting available means is done on a strictly utilitarian basis- will it work?” This should have been a fight, but by unilaterally pulling the bill without any concessions from the Democrats, Mr. Daniels allowed the opposition’s tactic to succeed.

Third, the concession had consequences. Republicans were demoralized and Democrats emboldened. Now, the Democrats could employ the same means to stop the rest of Mr. Daniels‘ agenda.

Fourth, if you are going to capitulate, negotiate. “If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead.” The demand to kill another 11 bills will be used to squeeze another 30 percent compromise out of the GOP.

Understanding the other side’s rules, we can counter with the following:

First, do not throw Mr. Daniels overboard. He has achieved what most Republican governors are still fighting for — curtailing the collective-bargaining power of public-sector unions.

Second, regroup. Knowing that his entire agenda is at stake, Mr. Daniels wants to fight. But the fight should be directed at the key point — whether the legislators’ walkout will work.

Third, play offense. Mr. Daniels controls the executive branch and has the power of executive orders. The Indiana Senate, with a 37 to 13 GOP majority, cannot only bring back the right-to-work bill, but it can pass other bills, while the Indiana House needs only a majority to pass procedural motions.

Such a strategy focuses on the Democrats’ three key weaknesses. One is the need for unanimity. It takes only seven of the 40 House Democrats to break ranks for the walkout to fail. One House Democrat already opposes the walkout, and Republican can use their redistricting power to peel off the rest. Wouldn’t the guarantee of their preferred district composition be a powerful enticement for some Democrats to break ranks?

Also, the Democrats are employing a means — shutting down government — which targets the object of their political agenda. The Democrats are the party of, by and for the government. Shutting down the government is the ultimate defeat of their agenda.

Finally, time is on the Republicans’ side, and, with the power to call endless special sessions, Indiana Republicans can deploy an attrition strategy and ultimately pass Mr. Daniels‘ agenda.

No one should be denied a job because of refusal to join a union or be forced to pay dues to support politicians who do not share their principles.

In communist China, the only way to secure a good job was to join the Communist Party. In America, free people should not be forced to pay unions for the right to work. This is a fight for true free association and workers’ economic freedom. Indiana Republicans have no option but to win.

Solomon Yue, a refugee at age 12 from communist China and now an Oregon businessman, is a member of the Republican National Committee and a founder of both the RNC Republican National Conservative Caucus and its Conservative Steering Committee.

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