Our country is deeply divided. Therefore, it is even more important that we have a president that will not only be decisive and progressive, but also rational, methodical and even-tempered.
During my graduate school days, a professor presented the book “The Presidential Character,” by James Barber, who was a well-known Duke University political scientist. He devised a psychological system to classify presidents into four categories: active-positive, active-negative, passive-positive and passive-negative. According to Barber, an active-positive president is optimistic with a fond view of his presidency; an active-negative president is aggressive and sees power as a means to self-actualization. The passive-positive president has low self-esteem that is compensated by an ingratiating personality while a passive-negative president has a strong sense of civic duty, but an aversion to intense political negotiation. Franklin Roosevelt was classified as active-positive. He calmed Americans through his fireside chats during one of the most serious crises in our history, the Depression. On the other hand, Ronald Reagan was classified as a passive-positive and Dwight D. Eisenhower was classified as passive-negative.
Most of these are post-analyses, completed after the terms of these presidents, but one of Barber’s analyses had some predictability elements of presidential performance. His early insight into Richard Nixon’s personality elevated him and his theory to national prominence because he had classified Nixon as an active-negative before the Watergate scandal. I would classify Donald Trump as active-negative. Trump is aggressive and, as a business leader, sees power as a means to self-actualization. Time and time again, he has shown a pattern of insensitivity to others. A president has endless decisions to make, and it only takes one incredibly wrong decision to have an adverse effect on our country.
Keitha Burnett, Miami
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