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In political science and history, there are three criteria used to determine what makes for a great, good or a successful political leader. The three criteria are: responding to crisis, utilizing the office for leadership and good public policies. Responding to crisis, which can also be termed as crisis management, is a process that deals with responding to an events that threaten to harm a society or constituent where one is in charge. In a crisis, there is usually a cause of threat or insecurity that happens abruptly and impulsively and requires a short time to make a decision and there is usually need for change since the old system seemed to have snapped.
There are various types of crisis that can hit a nation or a constituent and these include: Natural disasters which is considered ‘an act of God’, and occurs in the forms of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, storms and tsunami. There is also confrontation crisis which occurs when an unhappy group of people fight the government to gain acceptance of their expectations. It takes the form of boycotts, strikes, and issuance of ultimatum to an office occupant. Other forms of crisis that can cause disturbance in a society include: technological crisis, crisis of malevolence and rumors.
As a president of a nation, the response one give to a crisis really matters. It is a measure of how much the president cares for his or her subjects. It is important for the president to always give a statement or be there in person in response to any sort of crisis.
The second criteria involves utilizing the office for leadership. Leadership is a social influence where one requires the support of others to accomplish a common goal. This goal, vision or dream is suppose to bring change to the people being governed and it is not to be self centered or have any form of selfish interest for the leader. As a political leader, the main focus of one’s vision should be the common civilian and tax payers who entrusts one and gives them the mandate to guide them and lead them.
The office of leadership should be treated with honor, respect and integrity and should not be used to enrich oneself by fleasing money.
The third and last criteria is good public policies. Public policies entails a course of action or a position taken by the leadership of government concerning a specific issue. These issues may range from global issues to issues of state interest. For instance, matters concerning global warming and the environment are very crucial and it is important for a government or the head of government to come up with policies handling this issue pretty well.
Apart from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, there were also other presidents in the US that were considered great, good and successful since they measured up to the three criteria discussed above of a good leader of a nation. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the US got into power with such force that a time period was named after him. He brought to an end years of what many Americans including himself, considered to be an elitist government. He was known to have engaged the people in matters of national interest and made them be like the executive branch in the process. Before him, president seemed to be working with the congress so as to shape the national agenda. Jackson was against the issue of having a big government, and he disliked debt. These two issues that are mainly accredited to Jackson, made him the only American president to clearly off all national debt. During his tenure, he ejected all the Indians living east of the Mississippi what is now called Oklahoma. This resulted into the Indian Removal Act of 1830. He eventually placed the millions of acres that became free for development. Though he was not all round perfect, but his policies had a common good for the American civilian.
Another example of a successful American president is James Knox Polk. His biggest accomplishment was when he acquired the state of Texas, the second largest land in America. When he came into power, Texas became part of the union of states and this increased the boundaries of America to the Rio Grande. He was also able to reduce tariffs and he established treasury systems that are independent. He was able to achieve everything he wanted in one term. He utilized well the office for leadership and he had good public policies.
Among the least successful and weak presidents of the US and who did not measure up to these three criteria is James Buchanan. He had bad public policies that were racial in nature and particularly discriminated on people of African decent. He was caught stating that slavery was an issue of little practical importance. Whether or not they were slaves, blacks could never be citizens of th US and the congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories.
Millard Fillmore, is also considered one of the worst presidents of the US because of his policies and style of leadership that saw him sign into law the Fugitive Slavery Act that sought to force the authorities in free states to return fugitive slaves to their masters. He got into power after the death of President Taylor and changed Taylor’s entire cabinet with individuals known to be favorable to the compromise efforts.
Taft was for the view of a limited presidential powers. And he said, â€œthe true view of the executive functions is, as I conceive it, that the president can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power or justly implied and included within such express grant as proper and necessary to its exercise. Such specific grant must be either in the federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof.â€. While on the other hand, Theodore Roosevelt, was for the view of stretching presidential powers to affect other nations that were mostly depending on the US for support. He is said to be the foundation for the repeated United States intervention in the governing of countries in, or bordering on, the Caribbean. Roosevelt’s scope for presidential powers was suppose to stretch to bordering and other countries. This policy is seen to have taken effect currently. The position of the president of the United States of America on any issue is highly sort for and also influences other nations greatly. Roosevelt also believed in presidential prerogative power, the ability to do anything not prohibited by the Constitution or statute.
Of the presidents cited in question 1 above, James Buchanan would be more likely to side with president Roosevelt view of a stretched presidential power to other nations. While president James Knox would appear to agree with president Taft for a limited presidential power.
President Abraham Lincoln viewed that the presidential powers are not limited by the constitution in cases that require quick and decisive measures. He is highly accredited for the American Civil War that brought freedom to many slaves in the US. Using the clause of the constitution that makes him Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, he made use of these powers to go out of the constitution. He argued that this clause gave him the right to do whatever he wants and whatever is right bring down the enemy. Most of the orders he issued to the Army and state militia was done without the consent of the congress. Before the congress could convene and discuss the way forward, the army was already on a mission to complete an assignment. He allocated money for the federal government before engaging in any consultation with the congress. And all these ha did with the justification of the clause in the constitution that made him commander in chief of the Armed Forces.
There are various circumstances that can cause a president to act unconstitutional at the same the actions be justified just like in the case of Abraham Lincoln. When it is necessary for the president to make snap and quick decision like concerning a war then the rule of law can be disregarded. However such actions may lead to unforeseen problems that may eventually manifest in the future.
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