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Leonard Steinhorn

Fee Range: $4000 - $8000

History and Communications Professor, Author, Political Analyst


AuthorCampaigns & ElectionsCivil RightsCurrent EventsGeneration IssuesGovernment & PoliticsHistoryHuman RightsMediaThe PresidencyThe SixtiesVietnam War


Washington, DC


Leonard Steinhorn

History and Communications Professor, Author, Political Analyst

You may know Professor Leonard Steinhorn’s voice because you hear him on radio as the CBS Radio News Political Analyst. Or you may recognize him if you watched CNN’s series on the 1960s in America – or the History Channel’s documentary on superheroes or even the special feature on the Sixties generation for the final season DVD of AMC’s Mad Men. Perhaps you’ve seen him on C-SPAN, BBC, PBS or countless other outlets that have featured and interviewed him. Maybe you’ve read his articles in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Politico, The Hill, Moyers & Company, Salon, Huffington Post, World Financial Review, History News Network, among others. Or you may have copies of his books, The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy and By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and The Reality of Race.

Professor Steinhorn’s teaching, writing, and scholarship have gained widespread recognition both nationwide and around the globe. Twice voted Faculty Member of the Year at American University, he has created innovative courses on politics and recent American history that have been featured on C-SPAN, USA Today, Agence France-Presse, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Every four years he teaches a course on the presidential election that has been covered – with cameras in the classroom – by CNN as well as the Washington, DC FOX, NBC, and CBS affiliates.

Steinhorn has delivered hundreds of speeches over the years discussing politics, the presidency, race relations, the Sixties, baby boomers, American history and culture, and the media. Venues include major non-profit and civil rights organizations, scholarly conferences, conventions, universities, book festivals, an Air Force leadership conference, and sites such as the Clinton Library in Little Rock, National Press Club, National Archives, Carnegie Corporation, Renaissance Weekend, Economic Club of Florida, U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, Sorbonne, and Charles University in Prague. He regularly speaks to visiting Fulbright educators, the State Department has sponsored his talks in Slovenia and the Czech Republic, and he frequently lectures around the country for One Day University. He has also been a visiting Scholar at Rollins College, Philadelphia University, and St. John’s Fisher College.

Steinhorn began his career as a political speechwriter and communication strategist, working for various members of Congress including the legendary House Judiciary Committee Chair Peter W. Rodino. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College and earned his MA in History at Johns Hopkins University. He joined American University in 1995, served as department chair for ten years, created the school’s Political Communication MA program, and holds the titles of Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History.



1968: The Extraordinary Events of a Memorable Year

The Sixties. It was a decade of hope – and disillusionment. A time of promise – and backlash. An era animated by youthful idealism – and frustrated by political disappointment. We entered the decade inspired by a president, stirred by a dream, and dancing innocently to “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” We ended the decade still clinging to those hopes and ideals, but sobered by the realities of a brutal war, bloodied protesters, burning cities, and a nation and culture coming apart.

No other year better encapsulates the narrative of the Sixties than 1968. It was a year when young people went Clean for Gene in the New Hampshire primary – and then got tear gassed in Chicago. When the country looked to larger-than-life leaders to guide us out of war and division – and then saw them felled by assassins’ bullets. When many hoped that a Kennedy would return to the White House – and instead we got a Nixon. In 1968, we saw a political party that represented the common folk get torn asunder by cultural and racial hostilities. We saw no light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam. We saw Black Power meet law and order. We saw an America barely anyone would have recognized just a few years back. 1968 was like an electrical storm that hit our country, one that hot-wired every interaction, conversation, and event. And it put a charge in the emerging culture war that would define American politics and culture for decades to come. To understand the Sixties generation – and who we are as a nation – it is essential to journey through 1968 and see how that seminal year shaped and influenced our history.


I’m Right, You’re Wrong: Understanding the Political Divide in America

Every president assumes office saying they want to unite our country and bring us together. But how? Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, progressives and libertarians and even moderates all claim the truth, they all claim to see the world as it is – yet the reality each of them sees is starkly different, filtered through a political prism colored by culture, race, ideology, history, religion, economics, and media. It’s as if we are all characters in the legendary 1950 Japanese film Rashomon, in which four characters involved in a crime are summoned to court and provide four completely different and often contradictory accounts of what happened, all based on their personal perspectives. Such is the divided reality of America today.

It’s not just that we belong to different political parties. In America today, people on opposing sides of our political divide interpret freedom, patriotism, the American Dream, government’s role, and even the meaning of America differently. So this talk will attempt to ask why. It will examine the partisan divide in America and explain the psychological, cultural, historical and political reasons behind our polarized society. It aims to explain how we see the world so differently – and to help us understand why we can’t seem to understand one another. We often blame politicians for not grasping the problems we face as a society, but the larger question we must ask is this: Will we ever again find enough common ground to even agree on those problems?


From the Age of Aquarius to Donald Trump: How the 1960s Shaped American Politics Today

We may not wear bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts anymore, and let’s not talk about what happened to our hair. But even though almost half a century has passed since the 1960s, it’s a decade that continues to reverberate in our society, politics, culture, and institutions to this very day. In many ways, America today is a product of the Sixties. From civil rights to feminism to gay liberation to the environmental movement to the silent majority, what started back then has shaped and influenced our country ever since.

Before the Sixties, Americans trusted their government and their leaders; since the Sixties, we question almost everything they do. Before the Sixties, it was Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and the sturdy dad with the lunchpail that symbolized our culture; since the Sixties, diversity and individuality define who we are. Whereas we once looked to executives at General Motors and General Electric to chart our economic progress, we now gain inspiration from the late hippie who invented the iPhone. To many, the presidency of Barack Obama symbolized the liberation movements of the Sixties. But it’s also important to ask how the Sixties produced the presidency of Donald Trump. To understand America today, we must understand the lessons from the 1960s.


Understanding America: The Nine Nifty Narratives that Define American Politics Today

Say you want to figure out what a politician is trying to tell you, or how they understand America. Or perhaps you want to decode a political speech or campaign ad. Or maybe you want to decipher the messages that underlie a candidacy or presidency. This talk will help you do it. Focusing on such essential political ideas as the American Dream, the Real America, Power Corrupts, He (or She) is One of Us, the Frontier, and the Mob at the Gates, among others, we will deconstruct American politics through the political, cultural, and historical narratives that define our country and our politics today. We will look at how different people interpret the American Dream, how some see the Real America one way while others see it differently. How we understand ourselves as a nation often determines who we are, how we vote, and how we see the other side. Understand these narratives and understand America better.




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