Imagine a large city, such as my home town, Detroit used to be, before liberalism destroyed it. Imagine that, in this city, a developer offers to buy a plot of land on which to build a multi-story office building. The upper floors will provide space for visionary entrepreneurs to start new businesses and to expand existing ones, create new products, new services and above all, new jobs. The ground floor will be retail space, providing much-needed products and services to the people who work in the offices above and to the rest of the city, too. And of course, for the people who work in them, the new stores will provide jobs.
Now imagine that someone else has a different idea. This person views people who buy land, put buildings on them, facilitate the creation of new products, services and jobs, but who have the gall to enrich themselves in the process, as evil, bloodsucking capitalists. This person believes that "the community" would be better served by turning the plot into a children's playground. Or he may believe, grudgingly, that an office building might be okay -- but only if the construction workers come from "the community." (The many jobs that would be created for the people who would work in the building is, of course, irrelevant.)
Imagine further that this person has a lot of friends and associates in "the community." When he talks, they listen, even when he tries to create an issue where no issue has existed before. (If "the community" needed a children's playground on this particular patch of vacant land so badly, why did no one demand one before?)
Imagine, then, that you have, on the one hand, a private party contemplating the purchase of a privately-owned plot of land, from another private party, in a private transaction; and on the other, you have a suddenly fired-up "community" that wants to stop it. There are but three ways to accomplish this. "The community" can (1) publicly shame the developer and/or the landowner, (2) get the local government to use its police power to force the developer and the landowner to give "the community" what it wants or (3) some combination of (1) and (2).
To pursue any of these alternatives, you need large numbers of people (whether these people actually live in "the community" is immaterial as long as there are a lot of them) to participate in large, public demonstrations at the proposed construction site, the developer's office, in front of City Hall and, ideally, at all three. And for that to happen, "the community" needs to be organized.
Enter the community organizer. The community organizer's job is to speak to groups within "the community;" write letters to sympathetic newspaper editors; bring in outside experts and professional rabble-rousers (who often come with their own professional rabble) and, most important, get the media to cover the demonstrations -- all with the object of assembling the critical mass of humanity needed to embarrass and/or pressure the private parties and/or government into doing what "the community" wants. Or, sometimes more accurately, what the community organizer has told them they want.
That's the community organizer's job. That's all he does and it's not rocket science. Any anti-Semitic, loudmouthed racial demagogue can do it (and, incidentally, become as rich as a real estate developer in the process). Community organizers are a dime a dozen. Now imagine that the American economy takes a sudden dive, as it has many times in its history. But this time, it happens just weeks before a national election. And the American people panic. And, seized by a sudden fit of collective madness, the American people elect one of these rabble-rousing, dime-a-dozen community organizers President of the United States.
Obviously, the presidency is a position of enormous prestige and power. But still, why would anyone take that person, even as president -- especially as president -- seriously? And why would anyone be surprised by the results?
Yet, so many do. And are.