We put so much faith in our leaders. We want them to rise above and do good. We want them to provide just rules for the rest of us to thrive by. Our opinions of our leaders can be so varied. Leaders rise for many reasons depending on the circumstances. In politics, we usually elect our representatives. For the people in the roles of Mayor, Governor, Senator, Representative, and President, we elect people based on our opinion of what they promise. We send them into office hoping they will bring good to our communities.
And people’s views on the same leader can be so different. Let’s take a look at Barack Obama and Donald Trump. While neither man in my humble option was or is a great leader, the contrast between Obama and Trump as leaders is very striking. One man is a Harvard educated lawyer while the other holds a degree in economics from a top Ivy League business school. While both men are well educated, their backgrounds are very different. Obama was born and raised in Hawaii to a mixed ethnicity family while Trump grew up in New York City in a family with a successful century old real estate business.
Just to be clear, the article is not about their policies, but about how effective they are perceived to be. The two men have very different styles which is reflected in the crowds they inspire. The approaches each man uses in dealing with the problems facing the role of President is telling. One is reflected while the other shoots from the hip. One is an open book while the other is a storyteller. One is pragmatic and the other arrogant. One worked as a community organizer. The other as a developer of high end real estate properties. Both lines of work require a person to develop a set of skills when dealing with people. For a community organizer bringing together different groups, skills to persuade and compromise are important. For a developer, a vision is needed. And so is the ability to lead a team to make that vision into a successful product.
Incompetent, not fit for role, doesn’t care about people, will take away our rights, getting things done, smart, clever, arrogant, doing a good job – depending on your news source, those words could be used to describe either man. Perspective is a funny thing. Both men are seen as capable strong leaders by their respective followers. But are they? One has an understand of how the presidency works, and the other… mmm… not so much. For one, his image is becoming more tarnished by the day with a White House in disarray and looking more and more like a tool for the Russians. But if we step back in time, 100 days and look at the image of leader Trump gave off, is his style effective? He speaks his mind, doesn’t hold back, has shown little intellectual curiosity, and confident (maybe a bit too much). This style has appealed to working class people and conservatives of all economic backgrounds. Its part of what got him elected. He’s seen as an outsider to the political establishment. Someone to shake things up. But is his style starting to alienate those who supported him? He appears to parrot Fox News without much independent analysis and tweets his thoughts without much filtering either, to the chagrin of his White House staff. His tweets are at times at odds with the message coming from the White House messaging machine. Does this mix message show a man in charge or having a hard time understanding the ins and outs of running the most important office on the planet? Is his overconfidence undermining his ability to build consensus to get major legislative work through Congress? Just take a look at the Republican first, second and third try with the repeal of the ACA. They have decided to defer a tax over all until a later date. Both of these were talked about heavily while Trump campaigned. The attempt to get the latest version of the Republican health “care” package through Congress, they had to drop funding for the wall which was another Trump campaign promise. This version of the healthcare bill had a hard time making its way through the Senate and is basically dead. For a man with a grand vision to protect our southern border, he seems to be having a hard time getting his latest development idea off the ground. Especially for someone with such extensive experience in real estate.
Trump has used the executive order 38 times to accomplish some policy endeavors, but most of them have been minor like rolling back regulations enacted by Obama in his last months as president and appointing personal. Obama also used the executive order heavily during his first 100 days which included rolling back regulations enacted by his predecessor, banning torture, and restricting lobbying to name a few. Also, within his first 100 days he was able to get through Congress a number of legislative measures like ones dealing with pay discrimination lawsuits, increasing health care coverage for children, land management to increase the preservation of wilderness areas, and the legislation to stem the effects of the Great Recession.
Granted Obama’s style is very different from Trump’s. He is considered to be one of greatest orators of the modern age. He’s known for having a keen legal mindset, intellectual curiosity, an understanding of history, the ability to compromise, and a sense of humor which comes in handy when people are not very nice to you. While his policies were not popular in some circles, his White House seem to run with a smoothness that didn’t undercut his attempts to get things done.
Is one style more effect than the other? The writing is already on the wall and has been from the beginning. Amazingly for one fellow, the people who voted for him still think he will save the day which boggles the mind. But that is starting to fade as some rethink their vote and his fellow Republicans are already feeling the heat from the peasants screaming at the gate.