The Friends of Ganser Library Fall lecture was held this week, featuring author and educator Dr. Robert J. Bresler, who spoke on the impact of war on presidential politics.

The lecture took place Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Lehr Room in Gordinier Hall. Around 100 people attended, including many students and several uniformed military personnel.

The lecture, titled “The Impact of WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War on American Presidential Politics” concentrated on how issues during times of war affect elections.

Throughout the lecture, Bresler focused on elections during the past several wars. He spoke about how the wars impacted the stances of the candidates, which consequently affected attitudes of voting citizens and the outcome of the elections.

Dr. Rober Bresler spoke to students Tuesday night and addressed the impact of wars on Presidents. Photo by Carla Anderson.
Dr. Rober Bresler spoke to students Tuesday night and addressed the impact of wars on Presidents. Photo by Carla Anderson.

Towards the close of the lecture, Bresler took questions from the audience, which ranged from how veteran’s opinions affect elections, to if presidents are considered to be celebrities more so than they used to be.

Bresler drove home the idea that history repeats itself by comparing elections and drawing parallels between the state of the war and the result of the election.
Senior Deborah Repko said that Bresler’s comparisons of the elections was what really stuck with her.

“We always hear that history repeats itself. It was encouraging to actually see that in action,” she said. Repko also said she appreciated that Bresler’s lecture was not biased.
Senior Steph Toivola agreed when she said she liked that he “never directly predicted the outcome of the [2008] election.”

Bresler is particularly interested in the topic of elections during wars because he has witnessed all of these wars and elections.

“I studied it all my life. I was a little boy during World War II, a high school student during the Korean War, and an adult during Vietnam. I’ve studied war and its relationship to politics my whole life. That’s why it’s important,” he said.

He believes his speech was relevant to the Millersville community simply because “we’re fighting a war during a presidential election.” Bresler graduated from Earlham College with a degree in politics, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in politics from Princeton.

He has taught at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, University of Delaware, and Penn State Harrisburg, from where he recently retired after 33 years.

He is now a visiting professor at Franklin and Marshall College, and the National Affairs editor and columnist for USA Today.

He is also an author, whose recent books include Us vs. Them: American Political and Cultural Conflict from WW II to Watergate and Freedom of Association: Right and Liberties Under the Law.

Friends of Ganser Library is an organization that promotes awareness of the services provided by Ganser Library. Each spring and fall, the group sponsors a lecture on an interesting topic.