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Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of[…]

Emergent Democratic politics is profound and worth researching.

Matt Bai: Well nothing inspired me to write the book. I actually had to be talked into it by my agent, and I’m still not sure it was a good idea. But you know what inspired me to write the stories that led up to it, and what inspired me to get really interested in Democratic politics is at this moment, in the emergence of a progressive movement is that I went out with Howard Dean in early . . . in 2003 when he was still a relatively unknown. And it was just Dean and I and an aid or two driving around in a van, you know? And he had his wash and wear shirts in the back and all that kind of stuff. And the crowds he drew just blew me away. It was like nothing I’d seen. The intensity, and the size, and the age disparities. But the intensity, and the fury, and the resentment spilling over. And it wasn’t just about Republican government. It was about Democrats and why their own party couldn’t stand up to what was happening in Washington, and it shook me. I came back and I said to my editors there is something profound happening at the grassroots of Democratic politics, and we don’t understand it. They were very encouraging for me to go do that; and so that really . . . that really got me moving in that direction. And there were just several twists and turns along the way that, you know, further convinced me that there was a lot worth mining there.

Recorded on: 12/13/07