On February 15, 2009, Mike Lux energized an audience of some 75 progressives at the Mercury Lounge in San Francisco. Referring to his new book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, Lux put events of the tumultuous recent past in historical context. He spoke about the conflict taking place since the time of the nation’s founding between progressive advances for the common good and conservative retrenchments that favor the wealthy.
Americans have a love-hate relationship with history. On the one hand, history is often seen as something dry and dusty, composed of dates and events and people that hover on the borders of consciousness and relevance and make the eyes glaze over, like the Wilmot Proviso. Compared to other Western democracies, we are shamefully uneducated in history, even our own, and yet little sense of embarrassment seems to attend this deficiency. That's because Americans pride themselves on not being constrained or determined by the past, but on always surging forward confidently into the future, reinventing ourselves, our nation, and perhaps the world along the way. History? Leave it to the antiquarians and the Europeans.