Former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush pushed politics aside and focused on fixing America’s problems during the 31st Rev. Thomas J Furphy Lecture.
“We need to get back to being Americans again,” Bush told the crowd of more than 1,500 people in Billera Hall.
He highlighted one of the country’s biggest challenges — the displacement of traditional jobs due to the emergence of automation and new technologies.
“What do we do with the thousands of people who will be displaced?” he asked. “For every 10 jobs that used to exist, they have one job now. This disruption hasn’t been part of the political dialogue but it sure better be part of the dialogue in this country.”
To compound the problem, Bush said, institutions that Americans have relied upon for generations, such as marriage and church, are now eroding and being replaced with the Internet. That cultural shift has helped to create the country’s current political climate and an overall lack of empathy – something that Bush said needs to change.
“What the hell happened in 2016? I don’t know; I was barely in it,” he quipped. “In retrospect, you can see why people are angry. You can see why they’re emotional. The system isn’t working like it used to.”
Bush challenged the crowd to help get the country back on track and offered a few suggestions of his own. First, fix the system from the bottom up rather than the top down. He urged people to forget about Washington, D.C., for a while and focus on building up their families and communities.
He called on the country to exploit its strengths, such as natural gas, to make high sustaining economic growth a priority. He also stressed the need to overhaul the way the nation trains and educates its students.
“We spend more per student than any other country in the world other than the Benelux countries and the result is abysmal,” said Bush, who was well known for championing education reform as Florida governor. “We’ve doubled the debt on the backs of students trying to achieve a 20th century education for a 21st century world. That system needs to be transformed radically.”
Bush’s final point – crossing the aisle to work together and penalizing the toxic discourse that has become all too common today – drew applause from the crowd. “I find it abhorrent that we allow politicians to speak as they do as if they’re on reality TV,” he said. “That’s a sign of real weakness.”
Overall, Bush said he’s optimistic about the future, even if a few big fixes are needed. “We’re on the verge of the greatest time to be alive in this country. My hope is that this great university will be part of the renewal of the greatest country alive.”
Before the lecture at 4:00 p.m., Bush met with about 40 DeSales students who asked him questions about leadership, education, and foreign policy. Students who attend are recommended by faculty members and represent a variety of academic majors.
Established in 1983, the Furphy Lecture Series is named in memory of Fr. Thomas J. Furphy, OSFS, who distinguished himself as a teacher of “National Problems” during his 38-year career in education. Fr. Furphy taught in schools in the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Allentown areas.
See More Latest News >>