Sunday, March 27, 2011

Factors to Consider When Voting for President: Who Should You Vote For?

By: Dianne Heath



Franklin D. Roosevelt had more perceived presidential achievements and appeal than Herbert Hoover.

Voting smart is very important during presidential elections. It’s almost impossible to make the perfect decision or accurately determine the candidate's potential greatness. Even now people will never know how much a president had an impact on society or what the state of society would have been if he had not taken a specific action. However, with effort, you can take steps to make the best possible choice when you vote for president.

Presidential Greatness Theories
Throughout history people have admired presidents that have made substantial economic, social and political changes. Most people believe in the “great person” theory of leadership, which states that it’s possible for the leader to shape events and create his or her greatness. This theory has been scrutinized by scholars from a variety of fields who analyze leadership appeal and performance through impersonal and social-structure factors. Psychologists in the past have done empirical studies and have contributed their own theories and models about the primary factors for leader appeal. Max Weber stated that leader characteristics such as charisma gave the leader legitimacy and a special quality that set them apart from ordinary men. Freud focused on the leader’s ability in facilitating the followers’ identification in their ego ideal or super ego with the leader.

Another theory suggests that instead it’s the leader characteristics that match with the situation that creates leader appeal. According to Barber, in a conflict elect cycle the most aggressive leader will be seen as most appealing and victorious. In a cycle that has a concern for conscience, the leader that exhibits these qualities will be most appealing. In a cycle that needs conciliation to bring all the parties together, the leader that claims he or she will be able to bring everyone together will gain popular appeal. Finally, the leader- follower match suggests that when the characteristics of the leaders match with the characteristics of the followers then this creates the most appeal. Erikson stated that the leader’s characteristics that best match with the needs of the public will be viewed as most appealing (Winter, 1987).

Winter’s President Greatness Theory
Winter defines three basic motives which play a primary role in determining the goals behind the actions of the leaders and the relation between the leaders and the followers. A leader showing a concern achievement has a need for excellence, task management, utilizes the feedback from others and may show signs of moderate risk taking behavior. Leaders with the affiliation motive will show concern for close relationships with others, have interpersonal warmth, good overall adaptation to life, and self-disclosure. Leaders with the power motive have a concern for impact, prestige, desire to gain formal social power, and exhibit impulsive tendencies such as aggressiveness and extreme risk taking behavior (Winter, 1987).

The results indicated several congruences that gave insight about the causes of presidential appeal and greatness. Presidential appeal can be determined by how congruent the presidential motives are at the time of the public’s motive which resulted in an increase of votes, a larger margin of victory and reelection. The power motive and election cycles motive congruence were not significant in determining appeal.  However, the power motive was associated with greatness in actions and decision. The negative relationship between the president’s motives and followers’ motives suggest that those that were greatest least matched the motive of the followers. These results indicate that leader appeal was determined by a match with the situation. The leader’s greatness was associated with his own personal characteristics and independent of the followers and the situation (Winter, 1987).

Who Should You Vote for President?
Therefore, when voting for president determine whether the motives of the president match the motivations, needs and values of the country. Charisma, speeches, attractiveness and effective campaigning can be deceptive. Therefore make a conscious effort to research. You should:

1. Review their political record, professional experience and past achievements to determine if they have the capacity to improve the country. Many candidates will lie and exaggerate their ability to make positive changes, however they may not actually have those skills or even the clout to do what's needed. Do some fact checking to make sure that the achievements they claim are accurate.

2. Observe the candidate's body language and facial expressions. Facial expressions are for your protection because a dishonest person can threaten your survival. For example,  if you depend on Pell Grants and a candidate lies about maintaining them, the result could be you leaving college and becoming impoverished. It's difficult for humans to hide their facial expressions and body language which allow others to know their true emotions and motives. Use this to your advantage.

3. Use inferences to make a judgment on his values. Then determine if his personality and political ideology coincides with the current political climate. A candidate that is running may not be the best match for managing the current conditions of the country, however he may be better suited for another election cycle. 

4.  Pay close attention to their campaign trail. Some candidates will make one promise to a blue state and then turn around and make opposite claims to a red state. Is this candidate spreading lies about the other candidate? Is the candidate attempting to manipulate the electorate?

5. Is the candidate open to a variety of opinions? Close minded candidates are dangerous because they refuse to consider other opinions that could resolve complex issues.  They are also more susceptible to group think. Observe how the candidates react to opinions that they don't agree with. Do they become enraged? Do they seem to be stifling rage or do they have a smug expression? Yes, candidates should be passionate about their position however they should be genuinely curious about other people's position. Some past presidents have been so stubborn and prideful that they would rather watch America crumble than change their original position.  

6. Who is this candidate's team? One time I wanted to vote for a candidate however his team was unethical. The team includes organizations, individuals, PACS, his running mate and others that support the president. Some presidents attempt to hide their team. For example there are organizations that are engaging in voter intimidation and trying to suppress the vote of disadvantage populations. They are claiming to be an nonpartisan organization however they are actually supporting a specific candidate and political party.  The president's current team gives insight into the types of people that he or she will appoint in various positions. If the candidate has a corrupt team now, those same corrupt people will occupy important positions within government.


What other factors do you think are important when voting for president? What past presidents seems to be misplaced with the time period and current needs of the citizens?

Winter, David G. (1987). Leader appeal, leader performance, and the motive profiles of leaders and followers: A study of America presidents and elections. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 196-202.


Related Entries:
-Herman Cain's political manipulation
-The effects of having negative campaign ads on YouTube



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

D. Heath said...

@Anonymous
What a sweet comment! I do want to continue to make posts...however since my posts are so long ( because I do research for them) it can be time consuming. I'll start writing again in June. Thanks for the encouragement!

Joshua the Politically Moderate said...

You do realize that you can't just vote in Presidential Elections, right? The President is Not a King. If the majority of the members in the House Of Representatives and the in the Senate are far from the President's views/ideals then you'll dividing your own government. Stop promoting the act of only voting in Presidential Elections; all citizens ought to vote in ALL elections.

Dianne Heath said...

@ Joshua the Politically Moderate
I realize this, I'm actually more into state and local government. However the article was discussing president greatness, therefore I wanted to remain focused on that topic.

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