October 28, 2016

Will I Know Anyone at This Party? 

Right now lots of Republicans feel like they don’t recognize their own party. Like a Minnesota congressman who’s confused when the residents in his district, people he’s known for years, start calling for a ban on Muslims moving to their town.

This episode won a 2018 duPont-Columbia Award.

Correction: In the original feed of this week’s show we identified Ricochet host and National Review columnist James Lileks as a Trump supporter. He’s not. This has been fixed. (The third Ricochet host, Peter Robinson, insists that Trump isn't as bad as Hillary—but even he is struggling with whether to vote for Trump or write in someone else.)


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. Orchestration and music direction: Stephen Oremus. (12 minutes)

Emily Bruskin Yarbrough, violin
Erin Benim Maryland, violin
Jonathan Dinklage, viola
Allison Seidner, cello
Brian Miller, flute and piccolo
Tony Kadleck, trumpet
Theodore Primis, horn
Recorded and mixed by John Kilgore

Program note: In an excerpt of the podcast Ricochet in the prologue to our show, someone misattributes a quote to the film Jaws that actually was from the movie Miller’s Crossing. Both are great films. The correct quote: "I'd worry a lot less if I thought you were worrying enough." All parties regret the error.

Act One

Party in the U.S.A.

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. (44 minutes)

Act Two

Party Guy

(Podcast and Internet Only)

Another tragic figure this year is the head of the Republican National Comittee Reince Priebus, 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.

Justin Goldner, electric bass, tenor banjo
Freddy Hall, guitar, ukelele
Kevin Garcia, drum set
Recorded and mixed by Jeff Cook
Arrangements and music direction by Justin Levine.