He told a story of three exceptional public servants, senators Bob Dole, Phil Hart, and Daniel Inouye, all of whom recovered together after receiving grievous wounds in the Second World War. They resolved together to dedicate their lives to public service, after growing up in the Depression only to be sent off to fight two of the biggest military powers the world has ever seen in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
Despite political differences, the three senators managed to work together, as did dozens of others in postwar America. Now that spirit of cooperation has been lost.
Brokaw told of a conversation he recently had with two young congressional staffers, friends who worked for a Democrat and Republican representative respectively. The two friends get together to eat, drink, and talk politics frequently, finding that they agree more than they disagree. Meanwhile, their bosses, the purported leaders of this country, refuse to be in the same room with each other.
Brokaw encouraged healthcare leaders to avoid the same trap. He encouraged various healthcare stakeholders to work together with rivals to increase value and transparency.
"How can you work together to help people?" he asked. "It's not about tech bells and whistles and ordering tests."
That will prove a shining example to the rest of us, he says, who need to "re-enlist as citizens."
On Monday, I expect to be able to report on some of the success stories of those efforts as we get further into the conference.