President Trump has been in the office for a little over 171 days but managed to take Washington (and the entire world) by storm with his politics. Trump’s first months of presidency have been just as unusual as his candidacy, with scandals, resignations, and an investigation into the administration’s relationship with Russia.
In some regards, however, Trump proved that even a leader so unpredictable as him, can still revert to tradition when it comes to important issues, such as foreign policy. His action against Syria and the Islamic State have been praised by both the U.S. citizens and the media, regardless of their political color.
There’s no question about the fact that Trump is different than anyone we have ever seen. But, just how different is his approach compared with past presidents?
Let’s take a look at the key characteristic of most U.S. presidents.
Every president has had a vision of where he wished to lead the nation and what he can do to achieve his goals. From Abraham Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction to John F. Kennedy’s project to put a man on the Moon, presidents have led the country with a clear and comprehensible vision in mind.
Trump’s plan and vision is to make America great again. Aware of the country’s weakening position in the face of emerging nations, such as China, Japan, India or the Scandinavian countries, he promised to bring America back to its past glory. He never promised changed; his vision was to fix and improve what wasn’t working anymore, not to change it. However, he managed to bring profound change to Washington.
Every smart leader can communicate their message to the voters, but few can connect with them. Although we praise ourselves for being rational creatures who listen to logic and common sense when making decisions, studies have shown that we feel first and think second.
Politics are deeply emotional. That’s why charisma plays such an important role for every president. There’s one thing to have a comprehensive plan and a completely different thing to actually make voters listen and engage with you.
Whether you agree or not with his policies, you can’t deny that Trump is a charismatic leader.
History has taught us that the presidents who understood that politics and pragmatism go hand in hand have been more successful than those who have let themselves driven by emotions. Sure, there were some presidents such as John Adams, Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams that had reckless temperaments, but most of them were very practical.
Trump’s style, however, is different. Although a powerhouse when it comes to business, Trump’s volcanic temper can sometimes eclipse his reason.
It goes without saying that the presidents who weren’t able to earn the trust of people and their support weren’t as effective as those who were perceived as trustworthy. Since emotions play such a major role in politics, a president cannot survive if he has lost his credibility.
When it comes to Trump, people are divided. Some are certain that the simple act of putting his name on something, like a building or a piece of legislation, can make it better while other people can’t trust him if their lives depended on that. Only time can tell if the trust of his voters is enough to keep him in the Oval Office or if his lack of political experience will eventually make them lose confidence in his ability to lead the country
When it comes to commitment, Franklin D. Roosevelt is the poster child to what it means to overcome your limits so that you can serve your country. Even though he was diagnosed with polio and eventually paralyzed from the waist down, he didn’t let his crippling illness to stop him from serving as President of the United States.
Roosevelt is a special case, but people expect the president to be ready to do whatever it takes to serve their country. Can we expect such a level of commitment from Trump? We can’t tell for sure.
What we can be certain of, though, is that change is upon us. Trump’s style and approach are different than anything we’ve ever seen, and there aren’t any signs that he’ll embrace the traditional leadership style of past presidents.