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BOSTON – Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has frequently brought up President Obama’s fondness for the politics and methods of activist Saul Alinsky.
However, there is evidence presumptive Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney may have been influenced by the late 20th century, Chicago-based radical.
Political commentator Dan Riehl wrote on BigGovernment.com that the “toxic-to-conservatives” Alinsky effect has its roots in the former Massachusetts governor’s father, George Romney.
“The progressive Alinsky is infamous and actually toxic on the right,” Riehl wrote. “George Romney’s endorsement of him, coupled with his acknowledged strong influence on son Mitt, will do little to assure suspicious conservatives concerned about Mitt Romney’s record as a progressive, including his introduction of Romneycare in Massachusetts.”
Political journalist and analyst Andrew Kaczynski wrote in a recent edition of the Buzzfeed that the elder Romney met with Alinsky to find a way to deal with the problem of the urban poor.
“In the wake of the devastating Detroit riots of the summer of 1967, Michigan Gov. George Romney, a liberal Republican, met the radical organizer Saul Alinsky to discuss the grievances of the urban black poor,” he explained.
Photos of the meeting can be found in the archives of the Library of Congress.
Political analyst and think-tank researcher Steve Baldwin believes that Mitt Romney was definitely impacted by his father’s association with Alinsky.
“Romney’s dad was a big leader of the RINO (Republican in name only) wing of the Republican Party and hated Goldwater,” Baldwin explained. “George actually walked out of the 1964 GOP convention in protest of Goldwater’s views. He was an admirer of Alinsky.”
Riehl emphasized that the younger Romney deeply admired his father and his father’s beliefs. Riehl also indicated that any switch to conservatism for the younger Romney would be equivalent to a denial of his father.
“This portrait (of George Romney as a social liberal) would jibe with Mitt Romney’s image as a progressive governor of Massachusetts, while suggesting any serious conversion to conservatism would not only entail a change in viewpoint but a rejection of Mitt’s father, George, someone he has regularly mentioned as a major influence while campaigning,” Riehl wrote.
He continued, “Taken as a whole, the new information could serve to fuel existing significant doubt amongst an already skeptical conservative base that Romney’s already vague conversion to conservatism is more one of electoral convenience than a principled decision.”
Worldview Weekend President and social historian Brannon Howse said Alinsky is a troubling political figure because the roots of his radicalism run deeply.
“A young Italian Marxist by the name of Antonio Gramsci advised World War II dictator Mussolini that violence was not the way to bring about a lasting revolution people would embrace and maintain,” Howse noted. “Gramsci wrote eloquently of a ‘quiet’ revolution – one that would transform a culture from within by changing the basic worldview of each and every institution in society.”
Howse continued, “He also cautioned that this revolution would be ‘a long march through the institutions,’ not a blitzkrieg of change. And so clear was his strategic thinking that Gramsci targeted Christianity specifically as the greatest philosophical adversary along the way.
“Later in the twentieth century, Gramsci’s vision captivated another rising neo-Marxist who codified the Gramsci dream in a 1971 book, ‘Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.’ There, Saul Alinsky detailed the need to penetrate the middle class and re-organize from within. Alinksy articulated tactics for infiltrating every conceivable social institution – including churches.”