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The Douglas W. Bryant annual lectures

The Eccles Centre has hosted an annual lecture since 1993. In 1995, this lecture was named in honour of Douglas W. Bryant who served as Trustee and Executive Director of the American Trust for the British Library between 1979 and 1990 and as its President between 1990 and 1994.

The Twentieth Annual Douglas W. Bryant Lecture will be delivered by the serving US Ambassador to the Court of St James, Matthew Barzun, on 11 May 2015.


2014 The Nineteenth Annual Douglas W. Bryant Lecture

This lecture entitled 'How Dismal is the Future of American Politics?' was given by Professor Tony Badger on 19 May 2014, in the British Library Conference Centre. Listen to the podcast.

Professor Tony Badger (c) Ander McIntyre
Professor Tony Badger Ander McIntyre

In 2012 Barack Obama became the only Democratic president other than Franklin Roosevelt to win successive presidential elections with over 50% of the popular vote. He believed he had a mandate to demand action from Congress on two issues where public opinion appeared to expect government leadership: gun control legislation and the 'fiscal cliff'. His failure to secure action on both issues illustrated his subsequent inability to translate his electoral victory into a mandate to govern.

In the Nineteenth Annual Douglas W Bryant Lecture, Professor Tony Badger, reflecting on a half a century of studying modern America, asked why is it so difficult to govern the United States, and why is the American system of politics so dysfunctional? He looked at the historic limits on the presidency and the federal government, the low level of political participation, the extreme polarisation of party politics, the loss of popular faith in the federal government, and the malign influence of both money and religion on contemporary politics. He expressed scepticism about any likely progress on the immediate policy challenges facing the United States: immigration reform, the deficit, the reigning in of entitlement spending, and climate change. He asked if the US can respond nimbly to the crises in the Middle East and the challenge of China. However, Americans have portrayed the inadequacy of their politics in apocalyptic terms many times before. Tony Badger suggested that economic recovery, energy self-sufficiency and the sheer scale of America's per capita wealth and military capability will enable the United States once again to survive the dysfunctionality of its political system.

Tony Badger has been Paul Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge University since 1992 and Master of Clare College since 2003. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of American Historians in 2012. Badger has written extensively on the New Deal, southern liberal politicians and the Civil Rights Movement. He is currently writing a biography of Albert Gore Sr.

The lecture was preceded by a reception.

Viscount and Viscountess Eccles, Baroness Williams, Professor Tony Badger, British Library Chairman Baroness Blackstone, Catherine Eccles and Professor Philip Davies (Director of the Eccles Centre) (c) Ander 
			McIntyre
Viscount and Viscountess Eccles, Baroness Williams, Professor Tony Badger, British Library Chairman Baroness Blackstone, Catherine Eccles and Professor Philip Davies (Director of the Eccles Centre)   Ander McIntyre

 


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