September 3, 1999

Ghosts of Elections Past

Stories of political idealists, stories designed to provide some small sense of hope about American politics. Most of these were first broadcast during the 1996 Presidential race.


Host Ira Glass with an idealistic would-be politician in California. The puzzle of American politics is that our political system is filled with idealistic people, but few of our candidates for top office seem either idealistic or capable of inspiring passion. (5 minutes)
Act Two

Kiss And Tell

A Walter Mondale-voting, gay-rights-supporting unrepentant liberal signs up as a Republican party member—and ends up a party functionary—a delegate to the state Republican convention...where he wreaks havoc. Dan Savage tells the story. (16 minutes)
Act Four

Throwing Money At The Problem

A few years back Alex Kotlowitz wrote a book called There Are No Children Here, about two boys growing up in Chicago's Henry Horner public housing projects. Those projects were across the street from the site of the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and when the convention came to town, money poured in for a makeover. One of the kids from the book, Pharoah Walton—now grown up—gave a tour, showing us what got fixed up, and how the real improvements in the neighborhood all happened underneath the normal political radar. (10 minutes)