Ward Melville Weighs in: What Makes a Good President?


Photo courtesy of David Everett Strickler on Unsplash.com

Sam Shen, Staff Writer

As Joe Biden was announced the winner of the presidential election, I decided that it would be a good time to ask the people in our school what they believe the personal qualities of a good president are. Is intelligence and competence expected to come first? Or maybe our president should be optimistic, peaceful, and tranquil? Or perhaps presidents should be confident and assertive? By interviewing random students only in my grade, I was only able to get thirty concrete, non-joke replies. Interestingly, despite political views, everyone mostly gave the same answers. 

Obviously, when talking about a leadership position, some personality traits that come to mind would be that the person is not racist, dense, or untrustworthy, but some people I interviewed gave wider opinions on the subject. For instance, one anonymous person, who said that a president should be someone who cares for all citizens, made the observation that when Joe Biden was on the debate stage or when he talks to the press, he looks at the camera, at the American people. For this student, this shows that Joe Biden listens to the public and holds the best interests of the people to heart. 

Another anonymous student said that the president “must know what he is doing (is) for the people of the United States, not for their party.” The same student also said that both Biden and Trump’s shortcomings are a concern, as a president “should not be full of himself” and should “be good at communication.”

There were some minor contradictions that existed between students, most of them likely because of their political point of view. For example, one anonymous student said that “the president should handle America and the American people first,” while another said that a top priority should be “strong foreign policies.” This student eventually said, however, that the president should “make the American people happy.” Therefore, both students gave more or less the same response, but with differing priorities. 

An interesting takeaway from the responses was that despite being conservative or liberal, almost everyone gave similar responses, such as being trustworthy, coordinated, accountable, smart, fair, and not racist. However, there were definitely also some mild jabs at both Donald Trump or Joe Biden on the subject of emotional intelligence and efficient communication. For most students, though, when thinking about a president, the ideals of the model citizen came to mind, as well as someone who puts the health and well-being of the American people above all else. While people have different political opinions, most have the same definition of a model president.