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There are a number of qualities that an effective leader needs to posses so as to be effective and efficient in the field he/ she is leading. There are also some qualities that deem a president in –effective; this will also be discussed.
Characteristics of a Successful President
A Clear Strategic Vision and Direction for the Country
An effective president should have a well laid down map/ blue print that cuts across all the facets of the economy, ranging from industry, international integration, democracy, power and politics. He/ she should be concerned with the big issues and challenges that are facing the country; ranging from the basic to the most complex, e.g. the current U.S. debt crisis and high costs of healthcare. For anyone to be a good strategist, he/ she must possess good analytical skills coupled with insatiable curiosity, an immense boundless knowledge and facts combined with the ability and capacity to absorb a striking range of facts through conversation (Roke, 2002, p. 1). He/ she should be in a position to explain to people his vision for the country in a way people understand and can relate to in-terms of their current circumstances. This aids the people in creating and developing confidence with their chosen or potential leader.
Consistency of Purpose
Consistency of purpose tends to be more specific and realistic. Here the president should be in a position to have definite goals that are SMART (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic-Time bound). The goals should have a practical target (Specific), should be quantifiable (Measurable), with a definite result (Attainable) and with a pragmatic approach (Realistic) which is timely (Time bound).
Constitutional, Experienced and Flexible
A great president should be well equipped knowledge wise and should be practical with surmountable experience in the public domain. He/ she has to be well acquainted with the country’s constitution and the rights privy to it. And should be able to interpret the constitution in a flexible way; especially in major crisis requiring immediate attention, focus or measures. He/ she should therefore be always ready for any crisis and should be bold in tackling it. He/ she should always contain an inner calmness that lets him cut through and makes decisions on a mature reflection of the situation which is geared to the common good of all citizens at stake.
Decisive and a Team Leader
A strong and effective president should always seek to surround himself with a team of realistic, critiques, reformists and practical persons. A strong team comes in handy especially when it comes to implementing a task or assigning certain people to do it. In times of crisis a team is able to resolve the matter in a more practical and citizen-oriented way thus a dire need for a strong team within the administration. A successful president therefore needs to identify a team of advisers who complement and addresses his in-adequacies and weaknesses. He therefore needs to be someone with charisma and easily approachable, a good and kiln listener and at the same time a person who does not rely on public opinion rather he/ she is vision oriented and ensures amiable and transparent protocol is followed to adhere to the country’s ultimate objective at any one-time. In regard of any situation or crisis, he/ she should seek to create a reliable mechanism that mitigates or eliminates the negative effects or impact by involving a team of experts and pragmatics. His decisions should be of complete adherence to the constitution and human-cum-societal rights (Roke, 2002, p. 1). He should also be respectful of opinions and criticism and should use these as creative platforms to better the country.
Self Confident and Emotionally Intelligent
A successful president should have strength of character that makes him self-restraint and bold – cum – firm upon his decisions. He should have in perspective an understanding of the qualities that are key to making a moral judgment and with respect for self. He should never create scape goats when crisis arises, rather he should have a strong stand and focus on taming as well as eliminating the crisis. These calls for strong emotional stands: that at what-ever cost he/ she should ‘act’ not ‘react’. His/ her actions should be based on facts rather than opinions, with an objective vs. subjective approach and should be guided by morals of rationality.
Characteristics of a Bad President
Authoritative and Dictator
A president who does not conform to the constitution or bends the rules to safe guard his/ her own interests or that of his/ her allies as opposed to those of the public; is deemed to be a dictator. Such a president can pose a great danger to the economic, political and social structures of a nation. Authoritative presidents are often linked to failing states/ nations which almost every time ends up in harvoc or civil war.eg. What Libya is experiencing at the moment is as a result of authoritative nature of Muammar Gadaffi’s. Such presidents lead by use of ‘muscle’, (TM, 2009, p. 1).
Discriminatory and Self-centered
Self-centered presidents have a cunning spirit that yields misunderstandings and conflict within the government administration. The presidents with this type of trait end up amassing wealth to themselves by use of public money through money laundering activities which has a negative financial and economic impact both in the short and long-run (Keko, 2010, p. 1). Leaders with such a trait, tend to discriminate the plight of the common citizens and satisfy their interests by abusing the power bestowed to them. Usually such leaders have no regard to human life; this is so because their personal interests comes first, thus they act based on their personal emotions as opposed to rationality approach.
Un-ethical, Greedy and Arrogant
This type of a president has an ignorant approach and therefore seeks to surround himself/ herself with advisors and persons who tell him/ her what he/ she wants to hear rather than what he/ she needs to know, (TM, 2009, p. 1). Such kinds of presidents tend to live in a bubble, and incase of a national crisis they shield themselves by lame justifications often construed from their dubious advisers. They normally shield themselves by using their power to influence a majority of their allies by conforming to their interests so as to have a platform to perform their injustices. Their arrogance nature often leads to conflict between their opposers because of their lack to have a kiln ear to the most pressing issues of a nation. This often results in to coup d’états or civil wars.
Un Constitutional and Escaptionists
A president with such a character often seeks to bend the constitutional rights and reframe it to his/ her own best interest. This is normally so when the president has a mandate that he/ she is supposed to carry out but has other interests at heart as opposed to the interests of the citizens. This trait therefore makes the president to use his/ her power to manipulate a loop-hole in the government system which serves as his/ her scape-goat of his intention of not conforming to the constitution or the laid down administration policies.
Incompetent and Immoral
Moral standards are at the core of any leader or president. An immoral president therefore puts his country at jeopardy. As Keko (2010, p. 1) contends that, no one wants to deal with an immoral society, therefore such a president subjects his/ her country to generalist judgment which may be detrimental to the country and citizens. His trustworthiness, transparency and public standing both professionally and socially stand to be de-rated, e.g. Bill Clinton.
A Case of a Successful President: Franklin Roosevelt as a Leader (32nd U.S. President)
According to an array of polls conducted in the U.S. on the most outstanding president, Franklin Deleno Roosevelt (1933 – 1945) never misses a top spot. Franklin (FDR) as a president stands out in a number of commendable ways which were commensurate to the characteristics of a good president.
FDR was complex and a controversial leader who had a strong character of analysis for both people and facts and was an orator. He spoke the ‘people’s language’ that he was understood by his audience and they could relate to him and used the radio to connect with millions of people.
His self confidence saw him disagree with some his advisors during the beginning of World War II, in a quest to support Britain. This translates to his commitment to the public service that his leadership skills were seen as he rose from a mere New York state senator to a presidential rank.
His strong character was stipulated by the fact that after contracting polio at age 39 and became paralyzed which rendered him handicapped – he faced the malady with a lot of courage, tenacity and hope. This character also saw him encourage a country struggling with a great depression and also against the Axis powers in the Second World War.
He also had a clear vision for the U.S. and with his experience he steered and created a regulated financial system which was meant to resolve the Great Depression effects as well as eliminate future occurrences. Franklin focused on creating a bridge between un-regulated capitalism and socialism. He therefore enacted a crisis management plan dubbed ‘New Deal’ which was a set of policies and attitudal changes about the role of government . This showed a strong stand in his decisiveness and swerve in creating a lasting impact that is felt up to today. In a long time capitalism was regulated. A number of Acts were set in place by his administration that, Franklin steered theses Acts with an aim of wresting down industrial capitalism to the ground. This led to the creation of a Securities and Exchange Commission that was set to regulate the Wall Street.
Franklin’s visionary attribute was foreseeable in his impact on foreign affairs. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, he committed himself to transforming the American people from isolational societies/ governments to citizens of a global stature. He felt it fatal if he did not act amidst the face of Nazism, Communists and militant Fascism, (Hastings, 2009, p. 1). This shows his sense of ownership of a responsible president. He also was in a bid to help the British desist from the Nazis; this proves how selfless he was at the same time very ethical and professional.
He had extensive experience in the public sector and politics; this therefore gave him an edge in his leadership position as the president. Coupled with his ability to communicate to people, he became famous as a president who knows how to get things done . His perfected skill of analyzing people and facts, made him understand the importance of mass communication and the art of consensus building to a nation.
His sense of vision and capacity building saw his first Immediate relief strategy yield results, this was when the congress passed a number of bill easily, (Hastings, 2009, p. 1). A number of acts that were people focused came into play e.g. the Social Security Act that sought to give economic security for the elderly, poor and the sick and is still active up to today.
He encouraged development and employment e.g. the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which saw almost 250,000 unemployed young men get to work on a number of rural local projects.
His sense of direction and responsibility also saw the creation of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which administered and led to the building of dams and power stations, controlled floods and modernized agriculture at the same time home conditions in the poverty stricken state of Tennessee Valley. This also proves his commitment and dedication to solving critical problems, in a focused and in a practical manner.
The above illustration is a clear guidance of the magnitude a successful president can make within the realm of his tenure, if well ingrained with good qualities of self confidence, vision, skills and experience.
A Case of a Bad President: James Buchanan as a Leader (15th U.S. President)
President Buchanan (1857 – 1861) stands to be the worst president the US has ever had. Even after a grueling almost 150 years later, his in-efficiencies within his presidential administration can still be felt. From history, when Buchanan was appointed to be the secretary of state (1844) by James K. Polk who won the presidency that year- he was frustrated with Buchannan and referred to him as Indecisive and Ineffective.
When the United States was still acquiring and adding new great expanses of its territory (1846 – 1847) Buchanan was still with the idea of annexing Cuba, where slavery was still in existence. Buchanan’s main advisors and supporters came from the north thus he confided all his trust and ambitions towards it. His inept characteristic of being self-centered and discriminative in taking sides is inherent in the illustration. To cap it up, it is clear that Buchanan remained in a steadfast position in defending the states’ rights, slavery and its quest for extension in the western territories and aggression in expanism: These were the southerners’ main focus of interests.
The fact that he opted to finding judicial, rather than congressional or presidential solutions that were people oriented and ethical, he was persuaded to finding self – orchestrated judicial solutions. This can be illustrated by the case between Dred Scott v. Sandford, upon ruling of the case, it was held that ‘no slave or black person could be a citizen of the U.S. and that the congress did not have power to exclude slavery from any territory and that the slavery exclusion clause of Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional’ (Keko, 2010, p. 1). It is clear that Buchanan had used his influence to sway the case in such ruling.
His trait as an Authoritarian leader is clear by the fact that, while in the White House he surrounded himself with advisors who told him what he wanted to hear as opposed to what he needed to know or rather what was happening (LaFantasie, 2011, p. 1). This shows the level of his ignorance and arrogance as a president of a very influential country and at a time where close and subtle administration was called for.
As a result of Buchanan living in a bubble, he was incompetent in dealing with an economic depression (Panic of 1857) that hit the country, and this was during his first year tenure as the president. His ineptitude led to an increase in bitterness between the Northern commercial interests and Southern agrarians .
His self-begotten philosophy of “limited government”, (Keko, 2010, p. 1) meant that the government did not have power to extend relief to those hard hit by the depression. Earlier on he had promised to reduce the federal dept and all government spending but this was not the case, since during his term in office the growth in federal spending was immense (amounted to 15% of budget in 1856) where the effects are still felt up to today.
Buchanan was also a dictator for he had abandoned the traditional understanding in the U.S. of regarding political enemies as loyal opposition; instead he accused them of disloyalty, extremism and treason. This therefore proves that he was against criticism which by nature is good for any leader holding any high position. Buchanan on the other hand was greedy. In his quest to annex Cuba, he led the US nation in its worst crisis that is the Civil War. Buchanan as an Opportunist and Escapetionist is illustrated by the fact that he had declared that the congress plus him lacked any authority to force any seceded state back into the union. He discredited the constitution by claiming that the union un-doubtably relied upon public opinion.
By his statement he was arguably justifying and giving a lee-way to the Southerners intent to secede and shedding light to the federal government that it was beyond its administration. This was a conspiracy between him and the Southerners.
Even after his term he never contended to have made any wrongs and therefore justified any of his actions. In a nutshell therefore he was discriminatory, Unethical, unconstitutional, inconsiderate, unrelenting and incompetent. This proves his reign was unworthy and had an negative impact that is felt up to this date.