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The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be

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ISBN-13: 978-0470395110
ISBN-10: 0470395117
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The next time you hear a conservative accusing progressives (a.k.a. liberals) of being unpatriotic and anti-American, tell them this: "Progressives invented the American ideal and inspired the American Revolution. Conservatives, then known as Tories, opposed it. Since then, every major advancement in American freedom, democracy, social justice, and economic opportunity has been fostered, fought for, and won by progressives against conservative resistance. Now who's anti-American?"

In The Progressive Revolution, author Michael Lux gives new life to the chapters of American history that conservatives want everyone to forget. He demonstrates clearly that progressives and the progressive movement created American ideals and forged the kind of country in which we want to live, while conservatives, in William F. Buckley's famous phrase, stood "athwart history yelling 'Stop'."

Lux begins by restoring Tom Paine to his rightful place as the inspiration for the American Revolution and reclaiming the Declaration of Independence as a clarion call for progressive democracy that has echoed around the world and through the ages. He goes on to recount the big change moments in American history, from the Bill of Rights through the ending of slavery to the great twentieth-century accomplishments of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement. He also documents the conservative backlash that strove to prevent and then reverse each of these expansions of freedom.

This clear and accessible account does more than set the record straight on such great progressive achievements as women's suffrage, national parks, Social Security, civil rights legislation, and restoring the environment. It builds a platform from which to argue that progressives today continue the centuries-old struggle to improve America and advance the cause of freedom, in contrast to how conservatives have always worked to defend the interests of elites and instill fear of big changes.

Whether you're a political junkie, an impassioned progressive, a history buff, or a conservative seeking insights on how the other side thinks, The Progressive Revolution will challenge your preconceptions, expand your understanding of American history, and give you plenty of food for thought.

From the Back Cover

Advance praise for The Progressive Revolution

"Using history as his canvas, Mike Lux illustrates how the progressive movement has made America a far better place, and how the conservatives who have opposed progressive change every step of the way have set our country back time and time again. Passionate and personal, The Progressive Revolution is as inspiring as it is informative."
Arianna Huffington, founder, HuffingtonPost.com, and bestselling author

"I think the world of Mike Lux, and think he may be one of the best organizers and thinkers we've ever seen in progressive politics and the progressive movement."
Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader

"If you're a progressive like me, you'll love Mike Lux's book. He combines a historian's sweep with a blogger's punch. His book is essential reading for all of us who believe in progressive change."
Paul Begala, former counselor to President Bill Clinton, Democratic strategist

"A history of the ongoing battle between those who have fought for equal rights and the common good vs. those who have defended slavery, Jim Crow, and all manner of bad things in the name of preserving tradition is crucial for people to understand. Mike Lux has been a leader in the fight for progressive causes for a long time now, and he tells an important story about the nature of politics in America."
Donna Brazile, Gore 2000 campaign manager, Democratic strategist

"Mike is unique in being able to bridge the inside and outside in politics. He was the very first insider to notice MoveOn, just days after our first petition in 1998, and really helped us get our footing. And he's helped countless times since. Mike is that rarest breed: a populist insider. He brings that perspective to The Progressive Revolution, telling the great story of how progressives have given us a better America."
Wes Boyd, cofounder, MoveOn.org

"As a seasoned political practitioner with a keen grasp of American history, Mike Lux brings a special perspective to the task of defining the progressive challenge today. He finds the answers in the story of America's progress, which he tells with great care, insight, and originality."
David Brock, founder, Media Matters for America

"Mike Lux gets what so many others in professional politics don't: that being a good progressive has always been good politics. The fact that he has survived—and thrived—for so long in campaigns and elections is a testament not just to his personal perseverance, but to the power of a progressive message."
David Sirota, bestselling author of The Uprising

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470395117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470395110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,235,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Robert Creamer on January 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliant book by Democratic strategist and author Mike Lux. It documents the periods in our history when conservative domination led to progressive renewal. The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, describes the five "big change" moments in American history since the American Revolution: the Bill of Rights, the ending of slavery, the Progressive Era, the New Deal and the civil rights movement.

Lux argues that big changes have never occurred gradually - nor have they been spread randomly over our history. Rather, they have been concentrated in these periods of "big change." In each, a cascade of progressive innovation took place over a short period of time, after years of right wing opposition.

He writes: "Progressives invented the American ideal and inspired the American Revolution. Conservatives, then known as Tories, opposed it. Since then, every major advancement in American freedom, democracy, social justice, and economic opportunity has been fostered, fought for, and won by progressives against conservative resistance. Now who's anti-American?"

Lux's message is especially appropriate today, as we cross the threshold of another period of "big change".

History will record that George W. Bush made one critically important contribution to our country - and to the entire world. He and his administration provided unquestionable proof of the bankruptcy of radical-conservative ideology, and set the stage for a qualitatively different progressive era in American politics.

History is not linear. It is not gradual or evolutionary. Human progress proceeds in fits and starts like a volcano, where pressure gradually builds over years and then erupts with enormous power.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By L. Feld on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We often see books from the right-wing perspective that demonize "liberalism" and denigrate the role of government in fighting for the common good and bettering all of our lives. Unfortunately, we don't see nearly as many books, especially articulate, powerful and persuasive ones like "The Progressive Revolution," from the progressive perspective. Lucky for us, Mike Lux has written just such a book, and I strongly recommend that everyone read what he has to say.

The book's argument is simple: when progressives have been in charge, the country has made great strides; when conservatives have been in charge, we've stagnated or moved backwards. In fact, some of the greatest disasters or near-disasters in American history have come during periods of conservative ascendancy, and Mike Lux lays those out for all of us who need a history refresher course. What's most amazing is that, in spite of an almost unmitigated record of harming workers, family farms, the poor, the sick, the elderly, children, the environment, not to mention the freedoms we cherish, conservatives have managed to win even one election, let alone many of them. In part, this is a result of conservatives effectively making their case (even if it's based on fear and lies), but in part it's also the result of progressives failing to make their own, much stronger case.

That obviously needs to change, and Lux is hopeful that we'll see that in the Obama administration. However, nothing's automatic; what's required here is pressure from both the "top down" AND the "bottom up." Netroots activism, as I write in my own book ("Netroots Rising"), is the key today, just as it has been since Thomas Paine penned his brilliant pamphlet ("Common Sense") that made such an enormous contribution to the American revolution.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Thornton on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lux gets a great many things right but a one important thing wrong.
By concentrating on five important moments in time Lux gives the appearance that change comes in fits and starts but reality is quite different. As an example, the civil rights movement did not end discrimination in housing as it was intended to do. Discrimination in housing was already supposed to be illegal before 1968 and just as people ignored the law in 1909 they ignored the law in 1979. Not until the 1990's did discrimination in housing actually begin to unravel. It is still in the process of unraveling. There was no specific time when such a change took place but rather it was (and still is) a gradual process. Historic change may seem to be punctuated by major events but real historic change takes time and comes incrementally. I wish it were otherwise as Lux claims but unfortunately it is not.
Other than this rather serious error the rest of the underlying book is quite good. The difference between Conservative and Liberals is basically one of how they wish to define their time and how they seek guidance. Conservatives generally look backward toward an idealized past for guidance and Liberals look forward toward an idealized future for guidance. Conservatives tend to find truths to be revealed while Liberals tend to see truths as constructed. Conservatives tend to see binary delineations (black or white / good or bad)when searching for answers while Liberals tend to see shades of grey and nuanced answers. These are of course generalities, not immutable sets of behaviours, but they hold true enough. This is of course the main reason Conservatives appear to be on the wrong end of so many issues. Revealed truths and an idealized past don't prepare one very well for the future.
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