Last night, I finally made it out to an event sponsored by Traction, a Triangle organization dedicated to discussing and promoting progressive issues in politics. I’ve wanted to many times before but the stars just never aligned until now. So I headed on over to The Regulator Bookshop and decided to learn a little more about this movement that I believe I ‘d like to be a part of. Michael Lux, author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, was giving a discussion of progressive politics and signing his new book.
In addition to being a political strategist and blogger, Mike has worked for the Clinton administration and the Obama transition team, but above all, is a passionate progressive. His zeal for making lasting changes to the way we, as a country, do things is strong and inspiring. It’s nice to meet someone who honestly believes in what they are doing yet isn’t just a crazy ideologue. Mike seems like a man who knows how to make things happen and is good at describing the ways in which we, the people, can contribute as well.
What’s the book about, you ask? It is a reading of our American history that highlights how many of our cherished movements have been progressive ones; that is to say, that they have brought about massive changes from the bottom up, that the peoples’ voice has led to implementing rights such as a minimum wage and women’s suffrage, not the voices of the elite. He argues that, in history, the conservative ideas have always failed and progressive ones have succeeded. Given as an example, conservatives were the dominant participants in the constitutional convention. States’ rights, slavery, and the electoral college were all concepts that the conservatives insisted be protected and written into the constitution. But the progressive voices called for the Bill of Rights and the passion of those progressives forced the rest of the delegates to give in. Many of those conservative ideals have since passed away or been lessened but protecting our freedoms has only become more and more important as time has gone on.
In his view, progressives see a window of opportunity and use it in anyway that they can while more conservative folks tend to aim for slower changes, believing that we can’t change too much too fast, etc. In discussing the 60s, he made a great point as to the fallacy of that idea-while we definitely remember the civil rights movements, we often forget the sheer number of other movements that started at the same time, such as environmentalism and feminism. It was a time ripe with opportunity and progressives seized it to bring about as much change as possible to the status quo, change to improve the plight of the poor, disenfranchised, and discriminated against all at the same time.
I left this discussion feeling more confident that I am a progressive and hopeful that I will get myself off my ass more often to actually take part in the political process beyond casting my vote at each election. Our health care system is about to be revamped and I plan to take part by better educating myself on my own views and working to bring about an equality for us all on access to this right, whether or not we happen to have an employer that can afford to assist with benefits or not.
I also look forward to reading the book and gaining a fresh perspective on how the things I cherish about our democracy really came to be. Perhaps I can discuss it at a “Drinking Liberally” evening with Traction members soon.
Posted: Thursday, May 14th, 2009 @ 11:48 pm
Tags: michael lux, progressive politics, progressive revolution, progressives, the regulator bookshop, traction, traction triangle.
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