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Vol 15|No 6|Summer|2019



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What are the traits of a good president?

by Jamie McKenzie (about author)



J. McKenzie - This statue depicts General Ulysses S. Grant who became the 18th U.S. president.

As the 2020 American elections approach, we should all be thinking about the qualities and traits that make for an effective leader of a nation like the USA or any nation, for that matter -- Great Britain, Germany, France, Mexico, Egypt, Iraq or the Philippines.

Students in school as well as citizens in general should consider the behaviors, the skill set and the character each person might bring to the job.

While many historians give Grant credit for his leadership of the Union Army during the Civil War, his presidency was marred by a series of scandals that have caused some to rate him as one of the worst American presidents. If we are looking for examples of character flaws or lack of readiness for the job of president, Grant provides many examples that might guide thinking about selecting the next leader.

The list of scandals associated with his two terms in office is horrific:

  • Black Friday
  • New York custom house ring
  • Star Route postal ring
  • Salary grab
  • Breach of Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)
  • Sanborn moiety extortion
  • Secretary Delano's Department of Interior
  • U.S. Attorney General Williams' DOJ
  • Whiskey Ring
  • Secretary Belknap's Department of War
  • Secretary Robeson's Department of Navy
  • Safe Burglary Conspiracy
We must take care as citizens to make sure this kind of history does not repeat itself. As George Santayana, once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

A list of desirable behaviors

  • A good president will unify rather than divide.
  • A good president will reduce fears and anxiety.
  • A good president will set a good example for our children in terms of language and behavior.
  • A good president will discourage bullying and personal attacks.
  • A good president will consult smart thinkers in formulating policy.
  • A good president will work to strengthen alliances with friendly, like-minded nations and leaders.
  • A good president will condemn the human rights violations and anti-democratic actions of authoritarian leaders.
  • A good president will consider the needs of all Americans regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or politics.
  • A good president will strive to create systems that support social mobility.
  • A good president will make social justice a priority.
  • A good president will act to prevent global warming.
  • A good president will act to reduce gun violence.
  • A good president will act to protect the environment.
  • A good president will improve the job prospects and possibilities of all Americans.
  • A good president will work to improve the incomes and quality of life of those in the bottom 80 per cent of the population.
  • A good president will reduce the need for military conflicts.
  • A good president will move military spending to meet deferred domestic needs like schools, bridges and hospitals.
  • A good president will rein in the excessive influence of special interest groups.
  • A good president will work with Congress to pass laws that reduce the risky and/or predatory behaviors of banks and investment groups.
  • A good president will work with Congress to pass laws that resolve problems with illegal immigration in a humane manner.
  • A good president will work with Congress to pass laws that tax people and businesses in fair ways.
  • A good president will act work with Congress to pass laws that provide equal rights to all citizens.
  • A good president will select cabinet members and officials who are highly skilled and ethical.
  • A good president will act to discourage graft and corruption.
  • A good president will promote positive thinking and harmony.
  • A good president will work with Congress to create a health system that provides for all citizens.
  • A good president will work with Congress to regulate drug prices.

A list of desirable character traits

In order to achieve the outcomes listed above, we need a leader with the following character traits:
  • He or she must be compassionate.
  • He or she must be empathic.
  • He or she must be persistent.
  • He or she must be resourceful.
  • He or she must be temperate.
  • He or she must be forward-thinking.
  • He or she must be consultative.
  • He or she must be conciliatory.
  • He or she must be good at task management and supervision.
  • He or she must be charismatic and inspiring.
  • He or she must be diplomatic.
  • He or she must be honest and ethical.
  • He or she must be politically savvy.
  • He or she must be energetic and physically fit.
  • He or she must be mentally balanced and self-assured.
  • He or she must be versatile.
  • He or she must be firm yet flexible.
  • He or she must be diplomatic.
  • He or she must be tolerant of differences.
  • He or she must be intolerant of criminality.
  • He or she must be capable of smelling sycophantic behavior.

You be the judge!

Each person will want to adjust the above lists to match their own belief systems and then they can apply them to the current occupant of the White House as well as the Democratic hopefuls.



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