Election 2016

This American Life: Will I Know Anyone at This Party?

Right now a lot of Republicans feel like they don’t recognize their own party. This week, This American Life tries to get inside their heads.

October 28, 2016 | SOURCE: This American Life

There’s a seismic, historic change going on in the Republican party this year. Producer Zoe Chace tells Ira about a place you can eavesdrop on a group of Republican friends as they fret and argue about that change week after week: a podcast called Ricochet. Ira talks to Rob Long, one of the hosts of the podcast, and to Avik Roy, who’s appeared on the show. 

Zoe believes many people in the Republican leadership seem like tragic figures this year. Like Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House. Songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez imagine what he’s feeling but can’t say publicly. Neil Patrick Harris sings the part of Paul Ryan. 

One way to understand the split inside the Republican party is to look at immigration. It’s this urgent, emotional issue for so much of the party these days. But why? Over the past year, as producer Zoe Chace has covered the election, she has wondered, why immigration NOW? She had a hard time getting any answers — and then she stumbled upon a small city in Minnesota called St. Cloud.

Zoe connects the anti-immigrant sentiment in St. Cloud with a national network of organizations promoting anti-Muslim views and spreading fear about Sharia law. We hear how the Somali immigrants in town deal with their neighbors’ fears. And then a violent attack at a local mall inflames both sides.

Another tragic figure this year is the head of the Republican National Committee Reince Preibus, who has the job of holding the whole party together. A grueling and thankless job, this year. We asked Broadway composer Michael Friedman – who did a political musical called Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – to imagine what Priebus might be thinking but not expressing publicly. John Ellison Conlee sings the part of Reince Priebus. 

Check out the full story here.