Should the government openly discuss its "need to survive"
when it's likely that most of its citizens won't?
After a full year of daily doses of the White House horror show and follies, it's wonderful to be able to think about a thoughtful and challenging federal government public information/public relations issue that doesn't spring from presidential childishness, bullying, or ineptness. But, what I'm asking you to think about now is not a happy situation. It's among the most dire we could face: the continuation or end of American government as we know it.
These thoughts are prompted by a recently published book, Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff, a respected Washington journalist, historian, and author of at least three other books on recent history and government policy. Its subtitle, The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itelf while the Rest of Us Die, captures the essence of several dilemmas the nation has faced since the end of World War II.
Since the development of the atomic bomb, which was quickly followed by nuclear warheads, the world has been sequentially plagued by "doomsday scenarios" and bouyed by hopeful plans to survive them. Sometimes we projected hopeless and mutually assured destruction. Other times we babbled childishly that "duck and cover" was our road to safety. But always, even when we didn't realize it, the government was working secretly and under deepest cover to create plans and places where key goverment officials could survive and maintain a semblance of American government.
Now some of those plans have been declassified, and others have been leaked on the Internet. And, Graff's book has become one of the first efforts to try to make sense of this profound period in American and world history. We not only need to learn about it; we need to process it and fully integrate it into our thinking as we move forward.
Neither Graff, nor apparently anyone in goverment over the last eight decades, ever looked at this from a public relations perspective. -- It wasn't in their eyes about public relations; it was about surival; and it was about "the American way of life." -- But, I think it is a matter of public relations and public trust, and I think it's past time for our government to start discussing such matters with us. Who and what should be protected and saved for posterity, and at what cost?
I heartily encourage you to read Raven Rock and start thinking about the public information and public relations implications of what you learn. How do you think the government should be addressing these issues and discussing them with the public?
This site was on Northern Kentucky University servers while I taught there, and it remained there for quite a while after I retired.