October 29, 2010

This Party Sucks

A show for this year's midterm elections. Two best friends in Michigan, both political novices, get tired of yelling at their TVs and take matters into their own hands. They form a Tea Party chapter to effect political change. But when push comes to shove and they have to choose a candidate, their ideologies, their principles and their friendship explode.

Rich Carlson and Tom Swenor, in 1981, with Rich's girlfriend Mary and Tom's wife Leslie.

In the original broadcast of this episode, reporter Ben Calhoun incorrectly stated Glenn Wilson's age. At the time of the 2010 election, Wilson was 46.


Republican Bill Jerke, a very conservative former Colorado State Legislator known as a tax "enemy," has a surprising job this election season. He's going around to lots of different conservative groups and urging voters NOT to vote for three Colorado ballot initiatives that would cut state taxes so severely, they'd essentially strangle state government from here on out. Jerke says he appreciates the sentiment behind the ballot initiatives but says they simply go too far. It's a weird election year—it's not just the political parties fighting each other but it's also the parties fighting amongst themselves, trying to figure out what they stand for, what they want for the future and what's the best path to get there. (4 minutes)
Act One

Patriot Games

Rich Carlson and Tom Swenor, two best friends in Michigan, got so fed up with the political process in the country, they decided to form their own Tea Party chapter in Petoskey, Michigan. But as election season revved up and push came to shove, Rich and Tom had very different ideas about how to advance a conservative agenda. In the end, their idealism, their jobs and their friendship have suffered the consequences. This American Life producer Ben Calhoun tells the story. (34 minutes)
Act Two

Mr. Hitt Goes To Washington.

Jack Hitt has spent the last two years watching the Obama administration lose the news cycle and war of soundbites to Republicans day after day. Watching the Democrats run away from issues like health care reform and middle class tax cuts, Hitt wonders if there is some secret long-term master plan the Democrats are deploying, or if they're just incompetent. He goes to a Democratic Party insider—Paul Begala—to try to understand what the thinking behind the last two years of Democratic messaging has been. (16 minutes)


“Whose Side Are You On” by GW McLeannan