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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

The Civics series at Town Hall shines a light on the shifting issues, movements, and policies, that affect our society, both locally and globally. These events pose questions and ideas, big and small, that have the power to inform and impact our lives. Whether it be constitutional research from a scholar, a new take on history, or the birth of a movement, it's all about educating and empowering.

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Town Hall is a gathering place where ideas are planted and movements grow. It’s where we come together as a community to listen and be heard—to ask and answer the big questions facing our city and our world. Annually, we present hundreds of artists and scholars, and collaborate with more than 150 grassroots groups in our self-produced programs. Rooted in the belief that we all deserve a voice, our programming reflects—and inspires—our region's best impulses: creativity, empathy, and innovation. With our podcast series, we take one more step towards making our programming accessible to all. 

Feb 28, 2018

With discussions of Presidential Approval Ratings surfacing in headlines, many wonder why numbers across recent presidential terms have seemed lower than ever. In The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office, historian Jeremi Suri charts America’s disenchantment with the office of the presidency, from the limited role envisaged by the Founding Fathers to its current status as the most powerful job in the world. He argued that the presidency is a victim of its own success—the vastness of the job makes it almost impossible to fulfill expectations. As managers of the world’s largest economy and military, contemporary presidents must react to a truly globalized world in a twenty-four-hour news cycle. There is little room left for bold vision.

Suri was joined onstage by former Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Together they traced the fall of the highest office to the inevitable mismatch between candidates’ promises and the structural limitations of the presidency. Join Suri and Chandrasekaran for an illuminating examination of our highest political office, and a discussion essential for anyone trying to understand America’s fraught political climate.

Jeremi Suri is a professor of history and holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas. He is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, including Henry Kissinger and the American Century and Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama. Suri also writes for major newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Foreign Affairs, and Wired.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran serves for two decades as a senior correspondent and associate editor of The Washington Post. During his newspaper career, he reported from more than three dozen countries and was bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo, and Southeast Asia. In 2014, he co-wrote (with Howard Schultz) the bestselling book For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism and Sacrifice.

Recorded live at Seattle University by Town Hall Seattle on Thursday, February 15, 2018.