Apr 20th 2013

American Exceptionalism, The Good Kind

by Mike Lux

Michael Lux is the co-founder and CEO of Progressive Strategies, L.L.C., a political consulting firm founded in 1999, focused on strategic political consulting for non-profits, labor unions, PACs and progressive donors. He is also a partner at Democracy Partners, a progressive consulting firm. Previously, he was Senior Vice President for Political Action at People For the American Way (PFAW), and the PFAW Foundation, and served at the White House from January 1993 to mid-1995 as a Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison. While at Progressive Strategies, Lux has founded, and currently chairs a number of new organizations and projects, including American Family Voices, the Progressive Donor Network, and BushRecall.org. Lux serves on the boards of several other organizations including the Arca Foundation, Americans United for Change, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Center for Progressive Leadership, Democratic Strategist, Grassroots Democrats, Progressive Majority and Women’s Voices/Women Vote.In November of 2008, Mike was named to the Obama-Biden Transition Team. In that role, he served as an advisor to the Public Liaison on dealings with the progressive community and has helped shape the office of Public Liaison based on his past experience working on the Clinton-Gore Transition, as well as in the White House. On January 14, 2009, Lux released his first book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be. Lux's book was published by Wiley Publishing. You can purchase The Progressive Revolution by clicking here.

When I think of Elizabeth Warren, I think of her as a fiery warrior on behalf of consumers and the 99%, fearlessly taking on the biggest and baddest of all the special interests, Wall Street. But she is also the senior Senator from the great state Massachusetts, and her first speech on the floor of the Senate was not on any economic issue, but on the terrorism at the Boston Marathon. It was a beautiful speech, well worth taking the time to read or view below. While on one level, it was the classic kind of post-tragedy speech you would expect from a politician who represents the place the terrible events happened, full of praise for the courage and resolve of her home state’s people, she did something more with the speech which reminded me of why I love her:

She talked about the value of community, about our responsibility for each other. She used one of my all-time favorite quotes, from early Pilgrim John Winthrop. Winthrop is most famous for his “City on a Hill” speech, which has inspired many Americans with its idea of American exceptionalism. But for Winthrop, this new land would only be exceptional, would only be blessed by God, if we looked out for each other, if we were our brothers and sisters’ keepers. In the passage Warren quoted, Winthrop said that our mission was

“to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man.  … We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together…. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

Winthrop understood that America could only be great if its people created a beloved community where we all cared about each other and were there for each other, and that is the central idea driving Warren’s philosophy as well. As she put it, echoing Winthrop’s most fundamental idea:

“To all the families who lost their children; to all those who were injured and wear the scars of tragedy; to all the citizen-heroes, the first responders, the healers, who acted with courage in the midst of chaos; to all those who bore witness at Boylston Street; and to the people of Boston and of Massachusetts: No one can replace what we have lost. No one can relieve the weight of our sorrow.
But here today, and in the days and weeks ahead, wherever we are, we will grieve together, hurt together, and pray together.

And so today, I rise to remember the lives of those we have lost, to support those who survived, and to honor those who served.

Today, we remember Martin Richard, an eight-year old who, like third graders everywhere, spent time drawing pictures. A little boy who loved to play soccer, hockey, and baseball in his neighborhood in Dorchester. We also pray for his sister and mother to recover from their injuries.

We remember Krystle Campbell, who grew up in Medford and never missed the Marathon. Lively and happy, Krystle was always there for others. When her grandmother was recovering from an operation, Krystle moved in to help care for her, because that’s the kind of young woman she was.

We remember Lu Lingzi, who came to the United States from China to study statistics. She loved Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, and she posted to her friends that morning that she had a wonderful breakfast. Her passing unites the world in our common humanity.

We will miss them.

To those who were injured on fifteenth of April, know that we are here for you.

Every year during the Marathon, we are one family. We cheer for each other, and we carry each other across finish lines. When tragedy strikes, we are also one family. We hurt together, and we help together.

In the weeks and months ahead, your struggles will be our struggles, your pain our pain, your efforts our efforts. We will be together through sorrow and anger, rehabilitation and recovery. We will be together because we are one family.”

This is the kind of idea that makes me passionate in my love for this country: that out of many, we became one people, one American family. That in this most diverse of countries, that when tragedy strikes, we come together and help each other. That when bad luck knocks us down, that our fellow Americans lend a hand to help lift us back to our feet. That we run toward the sounds of danger, not away, when our brothers and sisters are in danger. That is a country worth fighting for, worth believing in. That is America at its best.

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EXTRACT: " One can, and perhaps should, take the optimistic view that moral panics in the US blow over; reason will once again prevail. It could be that the Biden era will take the sting out of Trumpism, and the tolerance for which American intellectual life has often been admired will be reinvigorated. This might even happen while the noxious effects of American influence still rage in other countries. For the sake of America and the world, one can only hope it happens soon.  "
Mar 28th 2021
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Mar 24th 2021
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Mar 15th 2021
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Mar 8th 2021
EXTRACTS: "XThere’s a global shortage in semiconductors, and it’s becoming increasingly serious." ...... "The automotive sector has been worst affected by the drought, in an era where microchips now form the backbone of most cars. Ford is predicting a 20% slump in production and Tesla shut down its model 3 assembly line for two weeks. In the UK, Honda was forced to temporarily shut its plant as well." ..... " As much as 70% of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured by just two companies, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Samsung."
Mar 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Back in 1992, Lawrence H. Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, and I warned that pushing the US Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target down from 4% to 2% risked causing big problems. Not only was the 4% target not producing any discontent, but a 2% target would increase the risk of the Fed’s interest-rate policy hitting the zero lower bound. Our objections went unheeded. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan reduced the inflation target to 2%, and we have been paying for it ever since. I have long thought that many of our economic problems would go away if we could rejigger asset markets in such a way as to make a 5% federal funds rate consistent with full employment in the late stage of a business cycle."
Mar 2nd 2021
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Mar 1st 2021
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Feb 28th 2021
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Feb 23rd 2021
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Feb 20th 2021
Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, circa 1670, (Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde).
Feb 12th 2021
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Feb 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Since Russians began protesting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment, the security forces have apparently had carte blanche to arrest demonstrators – and they have done so by the thousands. If Russians so much as honk their car horns in solidarity with the protesters, they risk personal repercussions. The official response to the protests goes beyond the Kremlin’s past repression. It is war."
Feb 6th 2021
EXTRACT: ".......like Biden, Roosevelt was certainly no revolutionary. His task was to save American capitalism. He was a repairer, a fixer. The New Deal was achieved not because of Roosevelt’s genius or heroism, but because enough people trusted him to act in good faith. That is precisely what people are expecting from Biden, too. He must save US democracy from the ravages of a political crisis. To do so, he must reestablish trust in the system. He has promised to make his country less polarized, and to restore civility and truth to political discourse. In this endeavor, his lack of charisma may turn out to be his greatest strength. For all that he lacks in grandeur, he makes up for by exuding an air of decency."
Feb 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Europe must not lose sight of the long game, which inevitably will center on China, not Russia or relations with post-Brexit Britain. China is already establishing a presence in Iran, and demonstrating that it has the capital, know-how, and technology to project power and influence beyond its borders. Should it succeed in turning the Belt and Road Initiative into a line of geopolitical stepping-stones, it might soon emerge at Europe’s southeastern border in a form that no one in the EU foresaw."
Jan 29th 2021
EXTRACT: "One sign of this change is that, unlike all recent Democratic administrations, Biden’s hasn’t paid obeisance to Wall Street by giving bankers top jobs. The new Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is a former Federal Reserve chair and academic who has made it clear that she understands the country’s pressing social needs. Moreover, Biden consulted Warren on her economic views, and has named a former Warren adviser as Yellen’s deputy. Yellen’s appointment demonstrates that Biden shares the insight that enabled Trump’s rise: that too many Americans feel that they cannot get a fair share. "
Jan 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "Barack Obama cautioned in his final speech as president that, “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” Yet isn’t that exactly what America has been doing? In a decade punctuated by the global financial crisis, the COVID-19 crisis, a racial-justice crisis, an inequality crisis, and now a political crisis, we have only paid lip service to lofty democratic ideals. ... Sadly, this complacency has come at a time of growing fragility for the American experiment. Internet-enabled connectivity is dangerously amplifying an increasingly polarized national discourse in an era of mounting social and political instability. The resulting vulnerability was brought into painfully sharp focus on January 6. The stewardship of democracy is at grave risk. "