A year full of domestic tensions and international challenges ended for Joe Biden since he kick-started his journey as the 46th president of the United States.
While he managed to start working on some of his campaign promises, his agenda was nearly halted due to Congressional Democrats, who at times declined to work with him in one form or another.
Whether it is the lingering negotiations of the infrastructure bill or halting the social spending legislation altogether in the Senate, Biden is having difficulties with party members which nobody would have foreseen.
Also, Senate has lately used unconstitutional rules repeatedly such as filibuster to block and deny policies and laws that are supported by most Americans, such as For The People Act.
However, as he marks one year of his presidency, he needs to stick to his campaign principles by not compromising with senators who are willing to accept money from the opposition donors to spearhead their interests instead of supporting the domestic agendas that support and empower their people.
We have seen bad leaders and good leaders come and go, but what we have not mastered yet is electing and keeping good leaders while refusing to repeat the old and nasty politics that have no value to society.
Leaders must have some acceptable qualities, qualifications, and discipline to lead others successfully. Leaders need strong moral character and integrity to direct and lead others while safeguarding their own behaviors and values.
People’s President: Core Characteristics of True Leaders
One of the most important aspects of good governance/government rests on the quality of its leadership. True leadership is found on a man of character and principle.
Principle-centered leaders are people-centered leaders. They build a shared vision that focuses on improving, increasing, and unleashing human potential by empowering people in their communities, ensuring social justice, and participation in decision-making.
That is what a country’s president is all about; a president for all people who focuses on people, not on the next elections.
It has become a custom for many politicians today to be more concerned about the next election and how to stay in power, instead of focusing on people’s development and future generations. Joseph R. Biden Jr (JRB Jr.) is a leader who focuses on people and their future and that of the country, making him a likable and acceptable president internally and externally compared to his predecessor.
Immediately following his election victory, Joe Biden started his presidency with a call for unity, “To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward.
Take a measure of me and my heart. Yet hear me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunity. And I pledge this to you. I will be a President for all Americans.”
Joe Biden took office at a time when the division in America was at its peak, raising threats on democracy domestically and around the world, highlighted by the spread of lies, a war against truth, a raging coronavirus pandemic, racial tensions, systemic racial inequality, a climate crisis, and distrust of the America role in the world stage was at a high.
With all these crises going on in an out-of-control fashion, Joe Biden promised to restore unity and bring back who we are as Americans.
“The essence of what our country stands for in America is an idea, the most unique idea in history. We are created, all of us, equal. It’s who we are, and we cannot walk away from that principle.” (Biden, on his first address to a joint session of Congress, January 20, 2021).
Joe Biden is uniquely qualified for the role of the president. He brought to Washington 36 years in the Senate, and eight years as vice president for the 44th president, Barack Obama.
Experience, knowledge, and political professionalism matter in politics and leadership.
Undoubtedly, in his political career records, he has seen both possibilities and inabilities to solve challenges presidents and the country face from time to time.
These may include historic reforms to healthcare, immigration, gun control, the economy, criminal justice, racial justice, and foreign policy.
However, with the experience he has, he brings with the leadership a shared vision, prioritizing plans for the future of the country and the people, focusing on the purpose of his presidency as a leader of his country and the world.
When Joe Biden entered the presidency, the country was and is still facing the political, economic, and social-cultural crises of the century.
The worsening COVID-19 pandemic of which over 400,000 Americans have died from the virus by the time became a president, and the COVID cases were spiking at an alarming rate, the country was desperate and scrambling to find vaccines or drugs that could help to slow down the raging Covid infections.
Next, the crippled economy was aggravated by the widespread coronavirus internally and externally which caused the mandatory shutdown of countries’ economies, and lockdowns of people around the world resulting in an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression-businesses and schools’ closures, hospitals flooded with sick people, and skyrocketing unemployment.
All these factors left the country in disarray and suffering from divisive politics and racial tensions, and the future seems gloomy and unstable with nothing promising insight.
But as always, America has a way of redeeming herself to its best values. The election of Joe Biden was a conscious decision to get up and rise again, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, light over darkness, and above all, love over hate!
Joe Biden knew keeping America safe, guarding the collapsing economy, and the divided country would need an appeal to unity first and foremost and stability to reclaim the American values.
This appeared to be an overwhelming undertaking given the mood of the country after four years of leadership in chaos, fake news, conspiracy theories, and ‘Big Lie’ about the 2020 election.
These elements led to the attack on Capitol Hill on January 6th and tested the strength of the American democracy, the widening racial division gap, and the discrimination that was catalyzed and encouraged by the unconventional President Donald Trump.
To understand the character of a man, of a leader who loves his country, look no further than the 46th president. Joe Biden brings high moral values and dedication to the cause of America and vision for America, which is the foundation of the leadership character.
His success thus far includes restoration of some stability and some degree of decency and hope for a better future for America.
Joe Biden was hesitant to run again for president after losing his son Beau Biden, 46 years old, to brain cancer, and perhaps he wouldn’t have run until he saw the chaos, danger, and damage that Donald Trump was committing to causing to the country and its people.
Joe Biden argued “Looking at the environment, it is hard for someone who’s spent his life in public service to say, ‘I don’t think I can play any role in fixing this.'”
Joe Biden is a political professional with leadership qualities that enable him to make plans for the American people, inspire them, and motivate them to seek the future with unity, not division and manipulation.
He has been responding to crises with a sound conviction of what is right instead of who is right even when it looks impossible and chaotic, he pressed on to what is right, such as ending the 20 years’ war in Afghanistan.
True leadership recognizes and influences human potential, not tampering with it or exploiting it.
Looking back at what Donald Trump brought to the presidency and GOP leadership, one cannot avoid the obvious differences on what makes a leader a country’s leader and vice versa.
Donald Trump was not and should have had no business of running the government in the first place. There is a profound difference between being a manager and a leader (Covey, 1991). He was and is gravely delinquent on politics and on leadership qualities.
Thus, when we choose incompetent political leaders, morally bankrupted, preoccupied with promises and not purposes, power manipulators who focus on keeping themselves in power and maintaining power and securing the next election, and have no vision for the people and the country, we, the people, will suffer the consequences!
Today, Congress is full of incompetent politicians who afforded themselves a seat in Congress simply because they could. Big-money influence has brought unprofessional politicians into the political world and made the political Houses dysfunctional.
Look at the public approval rate of Congress in recent years. Polls show that the public continues to hold a negative view of Congress.
According to Pew Research Center, today both Republicans and Democrats have given Congress poor ratings of about 6 in 10 (62%), of which 38% have unfavorable opinions.
Congress is at an all-time high gridlock, unable to agree on the people’s agendas; as a result, Congress cannot function and deliver for the people.
Dissatisfaction with the overall role of Congress for not utilizing its supreme role has led to the other two branches overpowering Congress and affecting the ability to perform checks and balances as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
But make no mistake, people, both Republicans, and Democrats may be dissatisfied and disappointed with the way Congress and the Senate function today but are still happy that Democrats won the recent presidential election.
They have given Joe Biden a victory and their trust and confidence to lead America, especially during the political, economic, and social-cultural crisis of our lifetime.
With that honor, Joe Biden knows that honorable character brings true leadership, and he takes leadership as a sacred privilege vested in him by the people and not a right or party politics that focuses mainly on the next election to stay in power and manipulate power.
The leadership Joe Biden brought to the presidency after unpresidential Donald Trump cannot be ignored or undermined.
During his acceptance speech after winning the presidency, he set the tone of his presidency and leadership to the American people by speaking to the minds of all Americans, and to be seen and heard as he has seen and heard the anguish created by his predecessors.
The country needed some decency, and Joe Biden brought it, and more…We just need to focus on what makes America, the America we love internally and externally.
He said, “I pledge to be a president, who seeks not to divide, but to unify, who doesn’t see red and blue states, but the United States, and who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.” He is a trustworthy leader, and so is his pledge to be a president of all Americans.
This is a measure of a county’s president when he knows that everything is in his hands for better or for worse and that it is his personal attitude and approach that will create the climate, that it is his daily mood that will make the weather.
For all that, Joe Biden rose to the occasion when the time called for it. He made the commitment to run because leadership is also about commitment to yourself, your people, and your country. “…To stop this of who we are,” he said.
On April 25, 2019, the day he announced his candidacy for the presidency, he said, “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time.
But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.
The core of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America, America, is at stake.” (Times, Bringing America Back Together). That is a commitment of leadership that recognizes what is at stake domestically and internationally.
That is what signifies the quality of a leader, a people’s president, giving back to the country by words and deeds! That is patriotism for your country, as opposed to MAGA and America First, that eroded the American political norms, values, and put the democracy and government on the brink of collapse.
“Donald Trump is the only president who has decided not to represent the entire country. We need a president who will work for all Americans,” Biden said, standing in front of a sign that read Biden Works for America. “The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself.” So, the way forward is not to repeat the mistakes of the past, but to learn from the mistakes made.
If that wasn’t the very first testament of Joe Biden as a people’s president, the president of all Americans, on his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2021, he reminded Americans once again that, “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope. Of renewal and resolve. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” he said. He is for restoring our democratic values/norms, not engaging in eroding our democratic values.
And perhaps, we the people ought to listen more to understand, but also ask our leaders if they hear us when we speak to them. We need to remind ourselves often as to be reminded of what being a people’s president entails, the call for unity as a prerequisite for building back America and building it better. “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness, and fury. Unity is the path forward,” argued Joe Biden.
Democratic Government: Protecting People is the Only Motto
The simple understanding of what the purpose is of a democratic government is that it is elected by and accountable to its people.
The democratic government only exists to protect individual rights so that people in a democratic government can undertake their civic duties and responsibilities for a shared goal and for the common good, thereby strengthening their societies and all its people.
If democracy exists to serve people, it must encourage reforms rather than existing as a replacement of the prior extreme form of government.
The third-world countries which are characterized by lesser or younger democratic governments tend to suffer the recycling of extreme forms of governments one after another because of lack of or poor involvement of its people in politics and the affairs of their governments, and leaders who are undemocratic take advantage when people are not involved in the affairs of their governments.
But for the Western societies to fall under the same behavior of extreme forms of government in the 21st century undermines all the political strides and gains that it has afforded for the past century.
That can be addressed and avoided when people take part in the affairs of their governments.
Democracy must tackle the issues of distrusting leadership and governments by finding and electing better-trained politicians who are capable of being trustworthy leaders, instead of abandoning it and falling into tribe politics or extreme ideology that causes more harm than good to the society.
It’s “we the people” that need to take the lead to direct our governments instead of leaving it to the political representative we elected.
Some of them are not professional politicians, they become politicians for a wrong cause or for their own cause. As a result, they fail to deliver to the people. They are either becoming corrupt or incompetent.
They manipulate the political systems and engage in infringement of people’s rights, such as voting rights, to freedoms of speech, press, or media-harassment and abuse with fake news lies, misinformation, and disinformation, systemic racial injustices, etc.
Changes from undemocratic leaders never benefit the people, only for that small fraction of people in the faction groups.
There is no truth in having a leader who lacks wisdom, knowledge, moral values, and strength of character to be an effective leader of all people!
Democracy must produce trained future leaders and maintain more stable leadership that delivers to the people. If democracy fails to produce better results by curbing bureaucratic corruption and providing more effective checks and balances against undemocratic acts, corruption, and incompetence in the government, democracy fails.
Democracy must instead deliver to its people social justice, freedoms and ensure that there are sufficient and effective policies that address the people’s concerns and interests. Today, Senate is ignoring the democratic rules and procedures and embarks on blocking policies and laws that protect people and their social liberties and freedoms.
The leaders are no longer talking the truth and telling the truth, they are getting more incompetent and less responsible.
They are concerned with carving what is in their interests and that of their political donors who help them to stay in power while leaving the public high and dry struggling to make sense of their government. not power abusers.
These leaders must make sure that governments are for the people, and leaders are answerable to the people. If the leaders of the democracy accomplish this, the possibility of people turning against their own government by forming faction groups and attempting to overthrow the government (just as what happened on January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill attack) will be a distant threat.
Plato, a Greek philosopher, and famous Western political philosophy founder talked a great deal about leadership in his famous work, The Republic, which details a wise society run by a philosopher, he asserted that political power and philosophy go together and are inseparable.
Thus, “only philosophers are morally and intellectually suited to govern and lead morally because they are interested in and have a passion for truth and learning while showing no interest in the temptations of gaining power. intellectually because they can acquire knowledge on the ideal forms of virtue, beauty, and the good.”
Virtue and good are crucial to Plato’s view on leadership as an art of ruling, and it should also be the case in today’s leadership, or it shouldn’t?
We must elect wisely. We must choose quality over quantity, qualified over incompetent, and disciplined political leaders who do not shirk political discipline.
The Donald Trump and GOP transactional leadership style was not and is not a model for America nor for the 21st century.
Getting back to people-centered over leadership-centered democracy is crucial and inevitable.
If today you ask Donald Trump or John Magufuli and their supporters to define these leaders’ traits of leadership as it relates to govern and lead, they won’t be able to! If you cannot describe your leaders’ style of leadership, it’s because they don’t have any, and it’s problematic governing and leading styles that lead to negative changes in society instead of good changes.
Political leaders or presidents don’t exist only for their parties, but for the whole people, for societal norms and standards of acceptable character behaviors and leadership skills.
The first duty of a leader is to its people. And the first duty of a society or government is its people!
We need democratic leadership that focuses on people, empowers people, and encourages people’s participation with a vision of tomorrow.
Thus, the transformational leadership that focuses on effective and clear communication to engage and influence human potential, plans attainable goals, inspires by responding to challenges to find solutions to people’s and society’s problems with a unity that leads to the desired goals and for the common good of all involved.
JRB is that leader! He possesses these leadership qualities and standards that qualify him as a people’s president, the president of all Americans.
Thus, while moving forward into his second year of presidency, he must not compromise on the principles he promised so that his voters do not get disappointed in him.
We should never trust leaders who do not possess and live by values and cultivate a high standard of moral values; the morals of leadership are paramount to a man’s character.
Adveline J. Minja is a lifelong educator and a die-hard political scientist. She holds two professional careers. She has been working in the field of education for over 23 years in all settings-private and public, as well as working in the government.
Her philosophy about life is based on her beliefs that, we as people, learn from one another and understand better when we are engaged in exploring, discovering, and experiencing life together, influencing one another with our knowledge, ability, creativity, attitude, and even shaping our characters.
She thrives in knowledge seeking and sharing.
She holds the belief that as humans we have more in common than what distinguishes us.
She aspires to the societal norms and practices that bring shared common good and desired common goals-freedoms, democracy, and social liberties.