By Jonathan Kasparek
Growing up in the shadow of a major political figure like "Fighting Bob" La Follette made for a politically charged childhood - and laid the groundwork for Phil and his older brother, "Young Bob," to make their own marks on the progressive political scene in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Like his father, Phil was firey, confrontational, and unwavering, and his efforts led to the passage of the country's first unemployment compensation act, aid programs for workers and farmers, and the reorganization of state government. His controversial effort to form an alternative course of action to Roosevelt's New Deal was at once his greatest contribution to federal politics and his greatest failure. Phil's is a history of continuing progressivism, of innovative solutions to social problems, and of loyalty to a political ethos that goes far beyond love of country.