Presidential Leadership Essay

1200 words - 5 pages

Presidential Leadership

Political leadership is the most wanted and at the same time most feared concept in U.S. political system. It is a major part of modern presidency, and perhaps the hardest thing for a president to achieve. There are several reasons political leadership is hard for a president to achieve. For one, founding fathers feared concentrated powers thus they established the system of checks and balances. Congress challenges almost everything a president attempts to accomplish. Secondly, the American people do not want concentrated power, and they want to get their point across, so they organize into interest groups. Interest groups can be very powerful, either working for or against the president, so the presidents are careful not to have them as an enemy. In order to achieve political leadership, the president must be able to use his powers of persuasion, that is be able to get his point across in Washington community and be able to "go public", that is be able to effectively communicate with the American public. For a president to achieve these two concepts, persuasion and going public, he must meet a number of other requirements, which will be discussed in following paragraphs.
It is a known fact that the United States presidents do not have many formal powers. A president cannot "make" Congress do anything. He cannot order Supreme Court around and he cannot ignore the interest groups. In order for a president to achieve his political agenda, he must use his powers of persuasion. For example, for a president to get the military to act in a certain matter, or for a congressman to vote in his favor a president must be able to persuade them to do so. In order to be able to persuade, a president must meet certain requirements. First of all, he must have a good reputation among the general public, as well as among the Washington community. If a president has "moral authority" his power to persuade increases dramatically. For example if Nixon tried to persuade Congress to pass a certain bill after the Watergate, chances are he would be unsuccessful. Public approval rating is one of the most important things for a president. A president with a high enough approval rating can take up more issues and solve them than a president with a low ratings, therefore improving his position in the office. To demonstrate importance of public approval rating one can look at the recent events surrounding Bill Clinton. While he was the in office, the economy was booming, unemployment was under control and foreign policy seemed to be working, so naturally Clinton was in good shape as far as his ratings were concerned. When the Monica scandal broke out and the president was in danger of being impeached, it was his good public approval ratings that has helped him stay in the office. Congress had probably felt a little unsure of impeaching a president in such a good standing. Had Clinton's ratings been lower he would have...

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