Friday, December 17, 2010

Pragmatism and Idealism

Is a political activist's job to advance an ideal or to advance the party that purportedly stands for that ideal?  If this question interests you at all, you should really listen to the first story in this episode of "This American Life." (Thanks to John Zaller for recommending it.)

The story follows two lifelong friends in northern Michigan who decide to form a Tea Party chapter.  After some initial successes in organizing the chapter, they find themselves divided over whether to back the Republican candidate in their congressional district or a Tea Party candidate.  The disagreement ends up destroying their friendship and promoting a difficult but important debate within the chapter about exactly what role activists should be playing.  The story is wonderful -- both funny and tragic, while respectful of all the players.  I plan to use this the next time I teach parties.

The story doesn't appear to be available for streaming anymore, but you can purchase it for $.99 on iTunes or Amazon.  It's worth it.

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