Nick Vehr, CEO and Executive Counselor at Wells Haslem’s IPREX partner, Vehr Communications in Cincinnati, Ohio
Other articles in this edition
1. Chairman Address, John Wells
2. How do you solve a problem like fake news? Timothy Mantiri
3. The best laid plans of mice and men - The importance of crisis simulation, Benjamin Haslem
4. PR on the screen - perception vs reality, Isabelle Walker
5. The WA State election preview, Ron Edwards
6. Old bones give new life Kathy Lindsay
7. Engagement communication to restore trust in government, Rob Masters
8. School for Life, Alexandra Mayhew
9. IPREX Highlights
10. The view from Middle America, Nick Vehr, Vehr Communications - an IPREX Partner
The Shell Issue 9
The view from Middle America - stay calm, our democracy is resilient
America has survived political tumult before. Its democracy is engineered to survive sudden and sharp turns, writes Cincinnati-based Nick Vehr. But he can only imagine how the rest of the world is viewing the Trump presidency.
These are interesting and, for many, very uncertain times in America. We understand that it must be the same for others in a world in which America shares such an important leadership role.
We are deluged every day with news about our new President. Mr. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for “politicians” and American mainstream media from the beginning of his unorthodox campaign through the first months of his equally unorthodox presidency.
I often wonder what interested citizens in other countries must think about America and our new President. Here, seemingly each day, we read and watch much that is extreme and challenging. I suspect that only the most provocative of this news (sometimes real and other times fake) finds its ways into foreign markets. It makes me cringe at the impression it must form.
Please, join with many in America and remain calm. Supporters of Mr. Trump and his opponents, and especially those who are not certain, have faith in our American democracy. I am reminded of Sir Winston Churchill who said:
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …”
The American will is strong. Our democracy is resilient. It is not now nor ever will be focused only inward. If President Trump’s “America First” presidential premise (which is plenty challenging to many in its own right) evolves into an “America Only” one, it will fail.
We all know the world is even more interconnected and interdependent today than it was when Mr. Churchill spoke his words. There can be no real retreat from this reality. I, for one, do not see this changing regardless of what the latest occupant of the White House says or believes.
We must always remember that many in America embrace our new President while many do not. This is not new in American politics. It is also the nature of our democracy that sharp and painful edges are more often than not smoothed by processes, checks and balances.
At one point in recent months, but before the election last November, I recall an interview with then-Vice President Joe Biden (who had served in the United States Senate since 1973 before becoming Vice President). He was asked if he had ever experienced an America so divided.
Mr. Biden chuckled and said “Are you kidding me?” He then reminded the reporter of the 1960s and bloody protests over voting rights for African Americans and the assassinations of President Kennedy, Senator Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He spoke of the 1970s and the resignation of President Nixon and more bloody and violent protests over American involvement in Vietnam.
Time will tell us of Mr. Trump’s real impact on America and the world. Our democracy is engineered to survive sudden and sharp turns, whether to the right or left. Regardless, it is all fascinating, if often a bit horrifying, to watch up close and on a daily basis. I can only imagine how it must appear to friends around the world.
Nick Vehr is the CEO of Vehr Communications in Cincinnati, OH (USA). His firm is a member, along with WellsHaslem, of IPREX, a $350 million global network of more than 70 communication agencies with 1,800 employees and 115 offices in more 30 countries. Nick Vehr is currently IPREX President of The Americas representing nearly 40 agencies in North, Central and South America.