submitted by Jocelyn Riley
Jeremy Suri, the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs and Professor of Public Affairs and History at UT-Austin and formerly a professor at UW-Madison, spoke to Rotarians virtually on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
Professor Suri’s presentation began with his 15-year-old son, Zachary, reading a poem he’d written especially for Madison Rotarians, “I Remember When I Was Four,” about accompanying his father as his father voted in a gymnasium for Barack Obama. Then Suri senior took over and outlined what he posits are the four major re-alignments in American history: the post-Civil War period, the great depression of 1893, and the 1932 election (which followed the 1929 crash). Suri predicts that we are in the middle of the fourth great alignment in American history because of four factors: 1) The party in power if abjectly failing to do what it promised; 2) Historical demographic changes; 3) The problem of race and a new consciousness of race; and 4) Institutions at all levels don’t work the way they used to and there is bound to be a re-alignment.
Suri thinks this re-alignment will manifest itself in three areas: 1) The health-care system, which is more expensive than most others with worse outcomes; 2) The economy, which is not as innovative as it used to be and is also inequitable. 3)
The issue of leadership (Suri said that he would exchange his students at both UT-Austin and UW-Madison for everyone in the two state legislatures and thinks that would improve the legislatures).
Suri ended his presentation on an optimistic note with a paraphrased version of Winston Churchill’s famous quip: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they’ve exhausted every other option.”
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/h_gOfsqqons.