Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Through conducting this research, I observed that while many leadership scholars cite persuasion, imaginary communities, follower engagement, serving as a symbol, and responding to the public's distrust of authority as effective means to meet the end of effective leadership, all of these tools were methods of influencing public opinion toward a specific end, rather than educating the public about all sides of an issue. Americans' anxieties regarding security, liberty, and choice, while complex, have roots in the public lacking a clear understanding about what impacts public policy will have on their private lives. Looking back on Clinton's and Obama's reform movements, it becomes clear that there was little focus on educating constituents about their choices.· Additionally, there was minimal attention paid to laying out the costs of either presidents' proposed health care reform legislation. In both instances leaders discussed reform's potential drawbacks vaguely, if at all, opting instead to assert (by omission) that the public could receive something for nothing through the passage of their respective plans. By proposing sweeping reform packages then not fully informing the public about all of the costs, benefits, drawbacks and assets that go hand-in-hand with reform, Presidents Clinton and Obama heightened the American public's longstanding fear of losing the ability to act for themselves, retaining only the ability to be acted upon by leaders. Not sharing full information with the public also violated the democratic ideal, which asserts that people can be "the masters of their own destiny" and that they can make practical decisions and moral judgments individually and within the context of public life. While pure democracy has never been realized in the United States' Constitution or in its laws, this ideal is of great significance in shaping how the American public conceives of itself and its role in government. Both Presidents' decisions to not lay out before people the full range of information necessary to establish opinions and make choices belies the idea that the public can be the masters of its own destiny. Such thinking necessarily places the public in a position of subordinance to leaders, which is at odds with Americans' desire for government to protect and enhance individual agency.
Miles, Ashley G., "Presidential leadership in health care reform" (2011). Honors Theses. 1266.