NECA attendees were treated to some rare insight into the U.S presidency by Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has been writing books about American Presidents since the Lyndon Johnson Administration and recently published The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.
Kearns Goodwin worked in LBJ’s administration, getting to know Johnson quite well over the years and helped him with his memoirs. As the author of Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln’s time in the White House Kearns Goodwin is a recognized authority on Lincoln, and she says President Obama is fascinated with Lincoln and has visited with her on a number of occasions to discuss the 16th President.
One attendee asked Kearns Goodwin about how to get Millennials more involved in the political process, and she told the audience that the concept of national service would help them feel a part of something bigger and offer them a way to contribute to America. She said this national service could be either be devoted to humanitarian or military endeavors and might be part of a system of paying back college loans. She noted that starting with the 1950s many legislators on Capitol Hill served in World War II and had a sense of national unity and exposure to other citizens with different backgrounds. In contrast, she says now not as many legislators served the country before being elected to office and that in recent years the nation has become much more polarized in where people live, who they associate with and where they get their news.