Tom Brokaw

  • Aired:  11/02/11
  •  | Views: 45,979

Tom Brokaw discusses the American public's desire for their political parties to work together and end the growing bipartisan polarization. (6:02)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, AWARD-WINNING

JOURNALIST, BESTSELLING AWGHTO

AUTHOR.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED, "THE

TIME OF OUR LIVES.

A CONVERSATION WITH AMERICA."

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE

PROGRAM, TOM BROKAW.

( APPLAUSE )

PLEASE, HAVE A SEAT.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> Jon: THE BOOK IS CALLED

"THE TIME OF OUR LIVES, A

CONVERSATION ABOUT AMERICA."

I ASSUME IF I OPEN IT UP, IT

WILL JUST START SHOUTING AT ME.

>> NO, WHAT IT WILL DO IS SOLVE

ALL THE PROBLEMS AT ONCE.

I MEAN, WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO--

YOU JUST READ THIS BOOK AND

AMERICA GETS BACK TO WHERE IT

WANTED TO BE.

THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT.

>> Jon: YOU WRITE IN THERE

THAT THIS IS THE WORST ANYBODY

HAS EVER SEEN IT.

PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN

WASHINGTON SINCE WATERGATE, THE

INTERNET, AND BLOGS HAVE

HARDENED PEOPLE'S OPINIONS TO

THE POINT WHERE THEY'RE JUST

TRYING TO DEFEND THEIR OWN

IDEOLOGICAL TURF.

>> THERE'S MORE POLARIZATION

THAN ANY TIME I HAVE SEEN IT.

I CHECKED WITH FRIENDS IN

WASHINGTON AND MANY FEEL THE

SAME WAY ABOUT OUR INSTITUTION.

I HAD TWO BRIGHT MEN COME UP

INTO ME IN WASHINGTON AND SAID,"

MR. BROKE AUGUST, I'D LIKE TO

TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE OLD DAYS."

I THINK THEY MEANT 1998.

HE SAID, "I'M A DEMOCRAT.

HE'S A REPUBLICAN.

HE'S MY BEST FRIEND.

WE ARGUE POLITICS ALL NIGHT

LONG.

THEY BOTH WORK FOR CONGRESSMEN.

HE SAID MY BOSS WON'T TALK TO

HIS BOSS, AND HIS BOSS WON'T

TALK TO MY BOSS.

AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY WOULD

GENERALLY FIND A WAY TO HAVE A

CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT WAS IN

THE BEST INTEREST OF THE

COUNTRY, EVEN IN THE MOST

DIFFICULT TIME, JON.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU'RE OUT IN

THE COUNTRY, DO YOU GET A SENSE

THAT PEOPLE ARE AS POLARIZED OR

THAT WASHINGTON HAS BECOME LIKE

THE RESIN OF DISAGREEMENT.

THEY'VE JUST BECOME THIS PURE

FORM OF POLARIZATION THAT

DOESN'T NECESSARILY EXIST?

>> NO, WHAT I FIND WHEN I GO OUT

IN THE COUNTRY THEY FEEL

WASHINGTON IS WALLED OFF FROM

THEM.

SO IF YOU GO TO A MID-SIZED CITY

IN MID-AMERICA, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU

FIND A REPUBLICAN BANKER WORKING

WITH THE DEMOCRAT WHO IS A

BACKHOE OPERATOR OR CONTRACTOR

OF SOME KIND BECAUSE THEY HAVE

TO GET ON WITH THEIR LIVES AND

THEY HAVE TO PRESERVE THEIR

FAMILY AND THEIR BUSINESS AND

THEIR COMMUNITY.

THEY'VE PRETTY MUCH GIVEN UP ON

THE IDEA THAT THEY'RE GOING TO

GET MUCH HELP FROM WASHINGTON.

77% OF THE COUNTRY IN ALMOST ALL

THE POLLS SAY WE WANT THESE

PARTIES TO WORK TOGETHER AGAIN.

BUT AS YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE BEEN

DRIVEN TO FAR CORNERS OF THE

ROOM AND THEY DON'T WANT TO

COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER.

>> Jon: YOU MADE AN

INTERESTING POINT IN THE BOOK.

YOU TALKED ABOUT THE CONNECTION

AMERICANS HAVE WITH THE COUNTRY,

THIS IDEA OF SERVICE.

YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY SEEM MORE

CHARITY-MINDED THAN THEY WERE

WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE.

BUT I WAS HIGH.

SO I DON'T KNOW.

( LAUGHTER ).

I-- I-- I COULD HAVE-- I COULD

HAVE MISSED A LOT OF-- A LOT OF

EVENTS THAT WERE MORE SUPPORT

BASED.

>> I'VE BEEN TO YOUR ALMA MATER,

AND I'VE GOT THE RECORDS, JON.

YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THERE.

>> Jon: NO, I DON'T WANT TO

GO THERE.

>> I'M HANGING ON TO THEM.

>> Jon: I UNDERSTAND THAT.

>> ALL RIGHT.

>> Jon: YOU GET THE SENSE

THERE IS SORT OF THIS GROUP OF

PEOPLE VERY MUCH LOOKING FOR A

DIRECTION TO INVOLVE THEMSELVES

IN BUT ARE FINDING THEIR OWN

WAY.

THERE ISN'T ANY KIND OF TOP.

DOWN LEADERSHIP.

>> A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY WHY DON'T

WE HAVE MANDATORY PUBLIC

SERVICE?

WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE THAT

AGAIN.

WHAT I SUGGEST IN THE BOOK IS WE

COULD HAVE PUBLIC SERVICE

ACADEMIES, KIND OF ON THE MODEL

OF THE MILITARY ACADEMIES,

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, THE

JOHN DERERKS FELLOW IN

AGRICULTURE.

THE JOHNSON & JOHNSON FELLOW IN

MEDICINE.

THEY WORK IN THIS COUNTRY, THEY

WORK ABROAD FOR THREE YEARS,

THEY COME BACK, GET THREE YEARS

TO PROVE THEMSELVES IN THE

COMPANIES, WE HAVE A NEW

WORKFORCE WITH A NEW SKILL SET

AND WE NEED BIG, BOLD IDEAS IN

THIS COUNTRY THAT EVERYBODY

COULD GET EXCITED ABOUT.

>> Jon: WHY COULDN'T WE

HAVE SOME TYPE OF ENLISTMENT

PROGRAM.

AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE

MILITARY.

YOU MAKE THE POINT IN THE BOOK,

THE MILITARY AND THEIR FAMILIES

BEAR THIS SACRIFICE.

AND YOU MENTION THE 1% OF THE

COUNTRY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL

THAT.

WHAT ABOUT ENLISTMENT SERVICE,

NOT MILITARY-BASED, BUT MAYBE

PEOPLE'S CHOICE, GIVING A YEAR

OF SERVICE OF SOMEBODY'S TIME.

WHY CAN'T THAT TAKE PLACE?

>> I'D BE ALL FOR IT.

WHAT I'M JUST TRYING TO DO IS

KICK-START THE CONVERSATION WITH

THE PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY IDEA.

LET'S START TALKING ABOUT IT.

LET'S SEE IF THERE'S A WAY WE

CAN GET TO IT.

WHEN I FIRST PROPOSED IT TO SOME

FRIENDS OF MINE, ONE TURNED OUT

TO BE A VERY CONSERVATIVE SOUTH

TEXAS BUSINESS MAN AND SAID MAKE

IT PUBLIC-PRIVATE, GET THE

PRIVATE SECTOR INVOLVED.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT

IDEA.

THAT'S WHY I PUT THAT IN THERE.

I TALKED TO A LOT OF C.E.O.s

AND OTHERS AND THEY SAID IT'S

WORTH THINKING ABOUT.

THE 1% VERSUS THE 99% IS A

CONTINUING ISSUE IN THIS COUNTRY

BECAUSE 1% OF THE COUNTRY IS

DOING 100% OF THE FIGHTING,

TAKING 100% OF THE BULLETS.

NOTHING IS ASKED OF THE REST OF

US.

THAT 1% NOW WILL BEGIN TO COME

THOAM A BROKEN ECONOMY.

THEY'VE BEEN FIGHTING THE BAD

GUYS FOR 10 YEARS.

THEY DON'T HAVE THE TRAINING FOR

THIS KIND OF AN ECONOMY AND WE

NEED TO NOT JUST SAY," HEY,

WELCOME BACK, BUDDY," AND WALK

AWAY.

WE HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO

REINTDWRAIT THEM INTO SOCIETY

AND FIND WORK FOR THEM AND MAKE

SURE IN THE COMMUNITIES THEY

RETURN TO THAT THEY HAVE THE

RESOURCES TO TAKE CARE OF THEM.

>> Jon: YOU'VE GOT THIS

GROUP OF--

( APPLAUSE ).

BUT YOU DO-- YOU HAVE THIS GROUP

OF INCREDIBLY TALENTED AND

DETERMINED INDIVIDUALS WHO

CLEARLY KNOW HOW TO REBUILD

COUNTRIES.

WE COULD USE REBUILDING.

IT SEEMS LIKE A NICE MATCH.

>> WELL, THE FACT IS THAT THEY

ARE WELL TRAINED AT AN EARLY

AGE.

THEY KNOW ABOUT DISCIPLINE.

THEY KNOW ABOUT RISK ASSESSMENT.

THEY KNOW ABOUT MANAGEMENT OF

RESOURCES.

AND THEY KNOW ABOUT GOING INTO

HOSTILE SITUATIONS AND MAKING A

QUICK SIZING UP ABOUT WHAT'S AT

RISK HERE.

>> Jon: YOU WERE TALKING

ABOUT NEW JERSEY WHEN YOU SAID

HOSTILE.

( LAUGHTER ).

"THE TIME OF OUR LIVES" IS ON

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