I do like the *First one needs to have a destination* aspect of the project..
once the destination is found, the political and financial backing would be easier.
Also taking the long term approach is far better than any "Get There Now" as total costs (though high) would be spread out over a much longer period of time, making budgeting much easier.
the matter of interstellar flight can take several tacks.. a new propellant source or crude use of power..
as designs already exist for crude interstellar spacecraft, it only makes sense that a destination needs to be found first...