To understand the Trump Revolt, call Saul

Last week I went to see Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.” And after learning a few things about the infamous Saul Alinsky I hadn’t heard before, I finally went to the bookstore and bought “Rules for Radicals.”

And for those who still can’t understand how Donald Trump spanked 16 experienced and generally conservative Republican competitors in the GOP presidential primary, Alinsky’s Prologue to “Rules” will help explain.

In it Saul laments the failure of young “radicals” to grasp “the fundamental idea that one communicates within the experience of his audience.”

No such problem with Trump. The reality TV star recognized from the get-go that his audience was anti-establishment Republicans and conservatives who, for years, have been shut out and ignored by the “insiders.”

And even though he clearly wasn’t a “movement” conservative, Trump talked about conservative issues – illegal immigration, political correctness, refugee resettlements, ObamaCare, bad multi-national trade deals, Common Core - that were important to this targeted audience.

Alinsky also advised his disciples to accept the world as it is, not as they wanted it to be. And that meant “working in the system.”

Trump followed this script, too. He ran within the GOP rather than outside as an independent, where his odds would have been much longer.

“Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of people,” Alinsky wrote. “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.”

Hoo, boy! Does that ever describe many conservative, grassroots GOP activists this election cycle or what?

“A reformation means that masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways,” Mr. Radical continued. “They don’t know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating and hopeless.”

Alinsky concluded, “The time is then right for revolution.”

That kind of frustration was especially felt in Nevada among many grassroots conservatives and party soldiers.

Indeed, after electing a 100% GOP-controlled government in 2014, establishment Republicans rewarded their grassroots activists and small-dollar donors with the largest tax hike in state history. As such, the feelings of frustration and defeat at the hands of the current system this cycle have been visceral.

The GOP establishment itself – especially Gov. Brian Sandoval here in Nevada - is responsible for fertilizing the ground from which the Trump revolt sprang. Trump’s rebels find the current Republican power elite to be every bit the enemy of conservatism that Bernie Sanders’ socialists are.

So the rise of the Trump movement is Alinsky-like in many ways. It’ll be fascinating to see if the frustration among GOP primary voters extends to the general election population, as well.

Chuck Muth is publisher of You can read additional columns and/or contact him at


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