History Club
The state of American democracy

The state of American democracy

An interview with Jeremi Suri

I serve as a Presidential Counselor to the National World War II Museum, and one of the benefits of this advisory role is the chance to meet some very smart people.

One of those smart people is Jeremi Suri, who teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Whereas I am very proud of myself for having written one book, Jeremi has written and edited eleven books. His most recent book is called Civil War By Other Means: America’s Long & Unfinished Fight for Democracy.

Jeremi also co-hosts a podcast with his son, Zachary, called This is Democracy. With the upcoming summit on Tech & Democracy happening this week in New York, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Jeremi and talk about the current state of American democracy, both the positives and negatives. Jeremi also has some suggestions for strengthening American democracy, which I’ll get to in a moment…

But first:

  • Finally, in a very cool surprise, this week the popular food magazine Epicurious cited by book History, Disrupted in an article about vintage food recipes going viral on social media. These online videos tap into the on-demand nostalgia that works so effectively for e-history content. It was nice to see how my analysis of social media is being applied to different contexts, a reminder of how relevant and timely this conversation is about tech and history. *Fun fact: many years ago, I interned for Epicurious.com during a summer home from college.

Now, back to the podcast…

In our conversation, Jeremi suggests three ways to strengthen American democracy:

  • Ratify a constitutional amendment that guarantees all citizens the right to vote

  • Eliminate gerrymandering and allow disinterested panels of demographers to create Congressional districts

  • Allow people to vote at a younger age and reduce the age of voting

Whether you agree, disagree or are on the fence about Jeremi’s suggestions, the conversation is worth a listen to hear how his historical perspective informs these ideas.

How do you think we can strengthen American democracy—and democracy around the world? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll share my thoughts after this week’s summit.

P.S. - Can’t tune into the summit but still want to talk about these issues? Join the conversation on March 9th with me, the Internet Archive, and Claire Woodcock from VICE. Register here.

P.P.S. - Jeremi and I recorded our conversation via Zoom for potential release as a YouTube video. That may happen, I just need to edit some of the audio drops. In the meantime, here’s a photo of us enjoying each other’s company.

Enjoy the episode. Speak to you once I’m back from New York,


This is a reader-supported publication. To support it, consider becoming a subscriber.

This post is public so feel free to share it.


History Club
Conversations on history, tech, media and politics—and how they intersect. Hosted by Jason Steinhauer, author, public historian and Global Fellow at The Wilson Center.