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Forgotten Grand Rapids senator was a major figure on the world stage during depression, war

May 25, 2018

 

Credit University Of Chicago Press, 2017

When was the last time you heard about a politician who realized she or he needed to change to help the country – that former ways had to be put aside to foster bipartisan cooperation for the good of the country? 

 

A U.S. senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, was such a person. 

 

Hendrik Meijer, executive chairman of Meijer and author of Arthur Vandenburg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century, joined Stateside to share the politician's story.

 

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

 

On the necessity of bipartisan work

 

"If you wanted to get anything done, whether it was deposit insurance, or stopping some extravagant spending plan of the president's — and he was a good conservative — you had to work across the aisle."

 

"So he honed those skills out of necessity. But then when the big stuff came after World War II, and these were momentous decisions, do we join a United Nations? Do we commit ourselves to this massive aid program to rebuild European democracies? Do we enter into an entangling alliance... which became NATO?" 

 

Those are things that shouldn't be done by one party. Those are committing the American people to major undertakings and sometimes sacrifices, and we've all got to do it together. And so he recognized that, and that really motivated him to reach across the aisle."

 

On why he isn't more widely known today

 

"It's funny how some people can slip through the cracks of history... If you don't live to write the history, and somebody else writes it from their point of view, it's awfully easy to be forgotten." 

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

 

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