originally published on October 20, 2010
Welcome to the second interview in our series. This week we feature progressive organizer, strategist, blogger, and author Mike Lux. Mike is the CEO of Progressive Strategies, the Co-founder of Open Left, and he has been active for thirty years on many progressive issues.
Mike is the “outsider’s insider.” He has one foot in the door (having worked on five presidential campaigns, and having served in the Clinton White House health care reform war room), and he has the other foot on the outside (having worked on many issue advocacy campaigns and on building independent progressive infrastructure).
Mike wrote a book called The Progressive Revolution which looks at the threads of conservative and progressive thought and action in the United States since the Declaration of Independence.
Listen to the full interview with Mike Lux here:
Read the full interview here:
When I’m in my home, I want to be comfortable. I don’t want to live with people who make me feel ill at ease, or whose values I don’t share. I don’t want conflict. I take great care in making my “house into a home.” I hang things on the walls that reflect my personality, my values, and who I am. This is my sanctuary.
When I’m driving in my car, I want to get somewhere. I have a destination in mind. Gas is expensive, and Rhode Island drivers are effing crazy – so I’m not interested in much other than Point A to Point B.
Sure, when I’m in my home, I may have some projects and have goals around those projects. And, sure, when I’m in my car, I may want to listen to music that I especially like, or have great conversations with my friends.
But entertain the (admittedly over-simplistic and falsely dichotomous) metaphor for a minute and ask yourself, are your politics your home or your car? In politics and the political organizations you’re part of, are you looking primarily for sanctuary, or are you looking to get somewhere? Do you get involved to express your values (like hanging paintings and posters on your walls), or are you stepping into a vehicle with a destination in mind? And do you have a map?
Or are you in a gas-guzzling mobile home that’s broken-down on the side of the road – really hoping the engine will magically restart some day, but it’s been like 40 years, and you’ve kind of gotten comfortable here, and you’ve forgotten what it’s like to arrive somewhere new? And besides, cars are bad.
This is Part Two (of two). Read Part One here.
While I’m a big fan of The Big Sort for all the reasons discussed in Part One of this review (among other reasons), I was disappointed by the author’s symmetrical depiction of the ways the left and right demonstrate his Big Sort theory, and by the book’s uncritical reinforcement of the story of the moderate center. Sure, I see convincing reasons why author Bill Bishop wrote the book exactly the way he did – and not exactly the way I may have wanted him to. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that for The Big Sort to be seen as an objective commentary on political self-segregation and partisanship in the United States, the author surely saw the sense in giving equal attention and critique to how his theory plays out on the left and the right. He is, after all, a journalist.
Where this becomes a problem is when he gives the false impression that the right and the left, or Republicans and Democrats (and, no, I don’t think those labels are interchangeable) exhibit his theory in mirrored fashion. He neglects to give adequate attention to significant qualitative differences. These differences are, IMHO, indispensably instructive for how we approach the democratic crisis that Bishop is pointing us to.
“How could Bush have possibly won?! I don’t know anyone who voted for him!”
“How could Obama have possibly won?! I don’t know anyone who voted for him!”
Depending on where you live and who you associate with, you’re likely to have heard some version of one or the other of the above two quotes (in 2004 or 2008, respectively).
That’s because over the past few decades we’ve migrated and rearranged our lives to surround ourselves with people who think pretty much just like us – and we’ve effectively phased out the folks who don’t share our opinions and tastes. We’ve chosen our neighborhoods, religious congregations (or lack thereof), civic and political organizations, the cultural spaces we frequent, and our friendship circles so that we can experience our worldview reflected back to us and minimize dissonance.