What he’s referring to is illustrated in the graphic on the right.
What you have is a legitimate problem that needs to be solved – a crisis that needs to be addressed. Among those who are being looked to for an answer you have three types of authorities that are motivated by three very different criteria.
Now, tt might be somewhat surprising that on the left you have a hammer and the caption, “Destruction.” Granted, there are volatile types in this category, as far as demonstrations and looting. But it’s also the well meaning individual who insists on “doing” without “thinking” that often makes a bad situation even worse.
On the right, you’ve got “Direction.” It’s there where you have a balanced approach that acknowledges risk without ignoring the remedy. It’s usually a hard call to make in that not every “i” is dotted, nor is every “t” crossed. There will be critics, there’s a chance that it will fail, but it nevertheless resonates as a decision that can be defended with a substantial amount of reason. And the one thing that will always be the case with this particular approach is that it comes from a leader as opposed to a manager. And that leader will often be known for appealing to a Higher Power for the wisdom they require (see Jas 1:5).
The guy in the middle, however, is the one you want to watch out for. This is the one that Alinski wanted to encourage with his aforementioned comment.
They are calculated. They’re not interested in a solution as much as they’re focused on exploiting the willingness of a group of people to accept an idea due to the anxiety and the confusion that characterizes a particular situation. The “idea” is intentionally communicated using words that stress compassion for the hurting and justice for the discarded. But embedded within their platform is a collection of tactics and compromises designed to advance a sinister agenda. So, what might appear to be a solution to a problem is actually an opportunity to establish some realities that would not otherwise be accepted.
Some of the word’s most heinous tyrants were able to achieve their goals by being the “guy in the middle.” They presented themselves as a visionary that was capable of solving the problem at hand, but with that solution came a new establishment that would be recognized as evil only after the fact.
Granted, not everyone who chooses to manipulate a problem for their own selfish gain is a tyrant, but it is nevertheless an approach based on a lie and anyone who opts for this approach is hiding something and for that reason cannot be trusted let alone empowered.
The Guy in the Middle.
Know who he is and know that regardless of how he sounds, he’s always got something else in mind.