He was deputy assistant for domestic policy to President Clinton (January 1993-May 1995). He has also been employed by the presidential campaigns of Al Gore (1988, 2000) and Walter Mondale. Since 1995, Galston has served as a founding member of the Board of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and as chair of the Campaign's Task Force on Religion and Public Values.
Galston was in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a sergeant. He was educated at Cornell and the University of Chicago, where he got his Ph.D. He then taught for nearly a decade in the Department of Government at the University of Texas. From 1998 until 2005 he was professor of public policy at the University of Maryland. Later he was executive director for the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Galston founded, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. He was also director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, both located at the University of Maryland.
He has written on questions of political and moral philosophy, American politics and public policy, having produced eight books and more than one hundred articles. His most recent book is Public Matters: Politics, Policy, and Religion in the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). Galston is also a co-author of Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and What We Can Do About It, published by the Brookings Press.
Galston became an op-ed columnist for the Wall Street Journal in 2013. In 2014, he continued public commentary on partisan politics.
Galston, William A. (William Arthur) (2005). The practice of liberal pluralism. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN0521840341. LCCN2004046567.
Galston, William A. (William Arthur) (2002). Liberal pluralism : the implications of value pluralism for political theory and practice. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN0521813042. LCCN2001043917.
Galston, William A. (William Arthur) (1991). Liberal purposes : goods, virtues, and diversity in the liberal state. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN0521410363. LCCN90025355.
Rovner, Mark J.; Galston, William A. (1987). One year to go : citizen attitudes in Iowa and New Hampshire : a report on focus groups conducted by the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies. Washington, D.C.: The Center. ISBN0913217093. LCCN87060758.
Rovner, Mark J.; Galston, William A. (1987). Southern voices/southern views : a report on focus groups conducted by the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies. Washington, DC (316 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 500, Washington 20003): The Center. LCCN87072197.
Obert, John C.; Galston, William A. (1985). Down-- down-- down-- on the farm : the farm financial crisis, a background paper. Washington, D.C.: Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies. ISBN0913217034. LCCN85060998.
Galston, William A. (William Arthur) (1985). A tough row to hoe : the 1985 Farm Bill and beyond. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Press ; Washington, D.C. : Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies. ISBN0819148040. LCCN85013978.
^"2006 Hubert H. Humphrey Award". American Political Science Association. Retrieved 2014-02-16. "This year's award recognizes William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution for his outstanding public service, deep involvement in vital questions of public affairs, and the quality and breadth of his scholarship in political science. The Humphrey Award honors involvement in public affairs. Galston is superbly qualified by his long record of personal involvement in policy making and advocacy. For more than three decades he has actively taken political science and theories about good public policy beyond the academy and into the arenas of national party politics and government at the highest levels in the United States. He has been especially influential in studying, advocating, and promoting the engagement of Americans in multiple dimensions of civic life. His qualifications for the Humphrey Award extend beyond his direct engagement in public affairs. Throughout his career, Galston has sought to revive and exemplify the classical understanding of political science as a practical discipline—one that arises directly out of the characteristic conflicts of political life, takes its bearings from those conflicts, and seeks to provide impartial guidance to statesmen and citizens. Galston has played this role in two ways: On the one hand, he has attempted to demonstrate that liberalism (in the theoretical, not political, sense of term) is theoretically defensible and, indeed, superior to any of the available theoretical alternatives. On the other hand, while acknowledging that theory can never be a substitute for statesmanship, he has attempted to demonstrate, in speech and deed, that what he calls liberal pluralism is the best guide to the great domestic policy debates of our time. As a result, Galston's career is a model of the unity of theory and practice..."
^Balz, Dan; Rucker, Philip (February 16, 2016). "Democrats' next leaders will grapple with schism". Washington Post. p. A17. "William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution said, "It's not just a case of the very rich getting richer. If that were the only thing going on I think we'd be be having a very different conversation. It's also a case of the people in the middle at best treading water and in fact doing a little bit worse than that.""|accessdate= requires |url= (help)