In choosing which presidential candidate a person will support, the most usual preoccupation for people in both parties is “what does he–or she–believe”? That’s certainly important, since a leader’s beliefs will manifest themselves in their policies and decisions. But there is something else to consider: How well can this person govern?
Having an ideology and having the ability to preside over a government are two different dimensions that are not necessarily related to each other. To run something–as a manager, an administrator, a CEO, a president–takes leadership; that is, the ability to get people to do what you want them to do. This, in turn, takes people skills such as diplomacy, the ability to persuade, effective communication, the capacity to inspire.
A candidate with the right ideas, solid all the way down the line, who lacks these abilities will not make an effective president. For one thing, ideology has little to do with much of what a president has to do. And to the extent that the ideology is important, any good ideas that the president might have will never be implemented without good administrative qualities.
Again, I am by no means minimizing the importance of political ideology and personal convictions. I’m just saying that those are not enough to make an effective president. Reagan could govern; Bush II, for all of his good beliefs and personal qualities, not so much. Clinton could govern, even with a divided Congress; Carter, with similar ideals, could not. Obama’s main problem is not his ideology, as misguided as that may be, but his lack of leadership and administrative ability.
I’d like to know how a candidate works with staff. His or her record of getting pet projects from ideas to realities. Can this person twist arms, create consensus, win over critics? Can this candidate work behind the scenes, break through people’s apathy, get things done?
I wish the media and political pundits of either party would report on that sort of thing.
Who do you think would be the best candidates with these criteria?