As the fall harvest comes in, BackStory takes a look at how farmers came to wield so much influence in American politics and life. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson viewed farmers as ideal citizens,their agricultural lifestyle providing the foundation for a virtuous republic. Just two percent of Americans live on farms today, but farmers still occupy a special place in the national identity. In this episode, BackStory considers why the ideal of the self-sufficient, independent American farmer is still so powerful (even as the reality has largely disappeared) and who has invoked that ideal over time. From railroad companies to anti-imperialists, the image of the “yeoman farmer” has served many different ends and anchored one of the most successful government lobbies in history.
Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca discuss the thrilling first round of the NBA playoffs. They also talk about the NFL draft and how teams assess prospects’ “red flags.” Finally, they consider the career of Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smit