I had no sooner finished my last post, Coffee Party, part II, when I was meandering about the web (I never do "surf" it) and landed on a YouTube video of Michele Bachmann, tea partier extraordinaire, explaining that she became a Republican after reading Gore Vidal's novel Burr. Up until that point, she had been a Democrat, and her first trip to Washington, she said, was to attend Jimmy Carter's inaugural ball.
All that changed as she read Burr, which Wikipedia describes a "a  historical novel challenging the traditional iconography of United States history via narrative and a fictional memoir of Aaron Burr."
According to Bachmann, she was offended that Burr "ridiculed the Founding Fathers."
This aligns exactly with what I discussed in the last blog: Tea Partiers have a vision that wants to pull the good from American history, and they are repelled by the seemingly endless negativity progressives appear to display toward that history, a negativity I believe most progressives understand as an attempt to articulate what the American experience was like to oppressed classes. But as I mentioned in the last post, to some extent it grows distasteful to many people.
Of course Bachmann is playing politics, but her Burr story rings true, and it seems clear in the video that she is heartfelt (or a very good actress) when she identifies her reaction to the book as a defining moment. Her distaste for its denigration of historical figures she "revered" led her to question her political allegiances, and she switched parties. The book's point of view clearly offended her at a deep level. It rings true to me that a visceral moment that shakes a person's deep held convictions would lead to the kind of change Bachmann describes.
That the book is fiction didn't matter. The aesthetic was offensive to her.
Wikipedia contends that the novel was meticulously researched and based on fact: "Vidal did meticulous research of hundreds of documents to come up with his alternative reading of history. In an afterword, the author maintains that in all but a few instances, the characters' actions and many of their words are based on actual historical records."
Bachmann doesn't argue that the book is inaccurate. She argues that it's vision was repugnant to her.
The question comes back to: Can the progressives create a vision that more people find compelling?