Political history was once a dominant specialization of American historians. In today’s New York Times, Frederick Logeval and Kenneth Osgood ask the good question: Why Did We Stop Teaching Political History?
“American political history as a field of study has cratered,” Logeval and Osgood say. “Fewer scholars build careers on studying the political process, in part because few universities make space for them. Fewer courses are available, and fewer students are exposed to it. What was once a central part of the historical profession, a vital part of this country’s continuing democratic discussion is disappearing.”
These two history professors conclude:
Knowledge of our political past is important because it can serve as an antidote to the misuse of history by our leaders and save us from being bamboozled by analogies, by the easy “lessons of the past.” It can make us less egocentric by showing us how other politicians and governments in other times have responded to division and challenge. And it can help us better understand the likely effects of our actions, a vital step in the acquisition of insight and maturity.