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What today's political leaders can learn from Grand Rapids' Senator Arthur Vandenberg


NPR political commentator Cokie Roberts says every member of Congress should read the book Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century for a lesson in leadership. Its author is Grand Rapids businessman Hank Meijer who spoke Wednesday night at a World Affairs Council of Western Michigan event.

Recently, WGVU spoke with Meijer about the book before a recording of West Michigan Week

“The week I sent it to the publisher earlier this year, the final draft, it felt like I was talking about a bygone era.”

Post-World War II when America was redefining its role as a world power. In Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century, author Hank Meijer describes Senator Vandenberg’s abandonment of isolationism and conversion to internationalism.

“Here was somebody who recognized even as he had his own principles, and he had his own beliefs, that sometimes your approach to government and to how we think about ourselves has to change. And his opinions evolved as America’s place in the world evolved and that allowed us to become part of a New World Order that set the stage for decades of peace after World War II.”

The Grand Rapids Republican reached across the aisle and through bipartisan support created the United Nations and the United Nations.

“And yet when you think about it we’re coming right back to the very questions that Vandenberg and his counterparts, Harry Truman, wrestled with after World War II, ‘What should the world look like and what’s America’s place in it. Where do we fit in as a country and as a global power?’”

You can watch our interview in its entirety Wednesday, December 13th at 6 PM on WGVU Public Television’s West Michigan Week

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.