John Yochelson was seventeen when he first heard President Kennedy’s call, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Responding to the call to public service, he had a front-row seat from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s, when the power game in Washington was played across party lines. Loving and Leaving Washington is his inside account of the lives of public servants from the perspective of a lifelong moderate.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies brought Yochelson into close contact with such heavyweights as Henry Kissinger and Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker; work with the Council on Competitiveness kept him at the center of action. But the rise of bare-knuckled partisanship soured him on DC. In 2001 he left power politics to fight for a cause that he believed in, launching a San Diego–based nonprofit to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering. Funding realities and family ties, however, drew him back to the Beltway.
The bittersweet experience of disengaging from and returning to Washington prompted Yochelson’s candid look at the loss of middle ground in U.S. politics and the decline of public trust in government. In this illuminating memoir, he reflects on the current generation’s dedication to their country and considers the rewards, limitations, and uncertain future of public service.