Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals #10: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
For the past nine rules, Alinsky has been talking about the most effective tools in grassroots activism. Now, he’s tying it all together. The goal of following all the other rules is to develop a well-oiled machine solely dedicated to advancing your cause.
To Alinsky, winning a single policy battle is good. But it’s only a stepping stone to your overall goal.
With each victory or setback on the way, take the time to do some evaluation and analysis. Ask yourself what is working, what isn’t and how you can improve your tactics for future fights. But more importantly, ask yourself how each victory is helping you create a movement that will continue to keep the pressure on.
While it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way, don’t get lulled into complacency. Until you achieve your goal, there’s always more you can do.
You can follow up your successful lobby day event with letters to legislators you visited, door-knocking efforts in their districts or an op-ed about your lobby day in the local paper. You can leverage the one councilman whose mind you changed to flip others and get your initiative passed.
“Action comes from keeping the heat on,” Alinsky wrote. “No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.”
Don’t forget some other wisdom from Alinsky while you’re keeping the pressure on, though. Remember that “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Keep the pressure on but come up with new and exciting ways to do so.
And of course, make sure you’re having fun while you’re doing it. After all, “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of your battle as just one fight over a specific bill or policy. Remember you’re part of a grand movement dedicated to fighting for freedom, and be sure everything you’re doing helps grow that movement.
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Check out the rest of the Adapting Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals series here: