“Activists are often thrown into three catagories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The opposition works to isolate and marginalize the radicals. To isolate them they create a public perception that people advocating for fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever the new “out” word for the day happens to be.
After marginalizing the radicals they identify and confuse the “idealists” by convincing them that changes adovated by the radicals would hurt people. The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals and instead get them to work with the so-called “realists”.
“Realists” are people who want reform but don’t really want to upset the status quo; paid-for politicians, community gatekeepers and big public interest agencies that rely on foundation and government grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with the opposition that can be touted as a win-win solution but is actually a win for the opposition.”
– Tricks Played by the Enemy, Fundamentals of Organizing.