Leading Edge

A Few Highlights from CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference

Brokaw: It’s Time to Bring Back Big Ideas

April 1, 2013

It’s time for another big idea, journalist and author Tom Brokaw told attendees of CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

“Big ideas unite us, small ideas divide us,” the 73-year-old icon said. “We’ve had a long run of small ideas lately. We need grand goals, not small steps.”

Brokaw blamed this small mindedness— and the constant anonymous, partisan prattle from online channels—for the gridlock that has gripped Washington.

“I’ve never seen the political system in such a state of instability in terms of getting things done. Our government ‘kicks the can down the road.’ What kind of philosophy is that? It used to be, ‘give me liberty, or give me death.’ ”

Right now, watching Congress is like watching the Kardashians argue on their reality TV show, he said.

Brokaw embraces credit union philosophy. Before taking the stage, he told CUNA staff he was excited to talk to credit unions because they’re community leaders.

Brokaw said the next big ideas will revolve around technological advancements and women’s growing influence. “Watch women change the world,” Brokaw said. “That’s a big idea.”

Brokaw unveiled a “Hail Mary” plan he believes could unite the nation and revive the allure of public service: Establish public service colleges with different disciplines, and send graduates into underserved communities.

He believes this would appeal to many in the millennial generation who have grander ambitions than big paychecks.

“We need to knit ourselves together once again.”

Help the ‘financially fragile’

The end of this recession wasn’t a single event—it has been more of an unwinding, a process, said Jean Chatzky, author and financial editor on NBC’s “Today” program.

Chatzky, a fan of credit unions, told attendees there’s always more to do for members, especially those who are financially fragile:

  • Provide budgeting and money management tools. Financial education works.
  • Engage with your members so you know how they feel about their financial situations.
  • “Upserve” rather than “upsell.” And think smaller about financial literacy efforts, instead of “trying to boil the entire ocean,” Chatzky said.

For more GAC coverage, visit creditunionmagazine.com/gac.