Politicians are some of the most influential people in the world. Their every word and action, good and bad, is seen and heard by thousands of people looking to them to be leaders of cities, states, and countries. Americans have viewed every type of politician over the centuries. George Washington was the original President, making decisions on war tactics, territorial conflicts, and the foundation of our nation’s laws. Abraham Lincoln spoke out in behalf of the abolition of slavery, and made crucial steps to its elimination. Richard Nixon, no matter what good he did as a politician, will forever be remembered for his annexation. Barack Obama continues to impact the country with his health care reforms and military investments. I could go on and on, describing various governors, senators, presidents, and mayors who are recognized for their positive speeches and their scandals outside the office. No matter what, it is crucial to analyze what sets certain politicians apart from the others as good leaders.
In Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation”, he outlines a good politician as one possessing three key qualities: passion, proportionality, and responsibility. A passionate politician cares enough to invest their time in certain issues. A politician with good judgment distinguishes that the ends and the means need to balance out, and one cannot overwhelm the other to the point that it is blown out of proportion. A responsible politician has concern for the future and the consequences of their actions. These qualities can be directly related to that of good leaders. Leaders are organized, have vision, influential, confident, and aware of their position in their surroundings. Machiavelli said that “it is better to be feared than loved”,(The Prince) yet good politicians can possess positive qualities while still being feared.
In American history in high school, we learned about a variety of types of leaders. One that stands out for me as a good politician is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was passionate about turning the United States into a powerful, stable nation, and clearly he was committed to investing time as he was the only President to be elected to four terms. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his decisions regarding World War II, it is clear the FDR had to ability to strategize that eventually led to an American victory. The most significant attribute that FDR possessed as President was his responsibility. His New Deal programs did not just help the United States out of the Great Depression, but they also transformed the country from helpless to powerful, on a domestic and international level. His advocacy for the United Nations was another display of his devotion to the US for present and future generations. He did not just preside over the government, but he gave it the spark it needed to continue to move forward.
As the country continues to make strides toward economic balance, a strong national defense system, and an inclusive society, it is important to keep Weber’s standards for good politicians in mind. I will be voting for the first time this fall in the election for Michigan’s governor. I will keep in mind whether the candidates are working to better the state or are only focused on personal success. We vote for politicians, but it is from these politicians and leaders that we base on our country on.