Good Person vs. Good Ruler

George Washington, a famous war general, was elected as the first president of The United States.  ALthough George Washington was mutually respected as a good man by most colonists at the time, was he the most ideal for president?  There is no denying that he was an extremely kind person, but did he possess the necessary characteristics needed to make a good leader?  There is no doubt that he represented the fundamental beliefs of America in that he made sure not to act as a ruler, but simply a guider for the people, but I’m not sure he was the most suited for the job.  A very strong militia men with great strategies and a brilliant mind for conquering opponents, but perhaps not the most educated in politics.  Even when he was the face of the federalist faction, Hamilton was really the brains of the operation.  Hamilton was the one coming up with the ideas.  George Washington was more like a pretty face, but someone with more than a good personality would have been more suited for the role of president.  I think it is important to recognize that a good ruler does not need to be a good person, only influential and strong enough to organize his/her people.  While people like Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler are regarded as some evil men, they cannot be considered bad leaders.  Hitler, was a man who did some very bad things, but he managed to persuade almost an entire country into believing his ideas were right, and he was very close to succeeding.  He must have done something right to gain so man followers and come so close to success.  Some people might go as far to say that a kind person would be too weak to fill a position of leadership, in fact you need someone who can’t be so easily persuaded to act in charge.  A leader must be influential not influenced, or else he will just become a pushover, and someone who gets walked all over is not some one meant to be ruling.  Do you think that george Washington was just a good person, or was he also a good leader?  Do you think that a bad person can be a good leader?  Is it possible to be a good leader and a good person and avoid being a pushover?  I encourage you all to think about this when voting for any leader; the president (in further years)  or even any of our own student government leaders(Not saying that any current people in student sovernment are bad leaders or bad people though).

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3 Responses to Good Person vs. Good Ruler

  1. Nicola says:

    In class last week we discussed the differences between a good leader and a good person. I agree with what Matt has said in this post, George Washington was a great man but he was not the strongest leader for our country. He did wonderful things for our country but in terms of governing us, Hamilton was really the driving force behind all of our success. I also liked the point Matt brought up about Hitler being a good leader. Hitler did awful things but he had the power to command thousands of people. To answer the question of whether a good person can also be a good leader, I think that to be a good leader one needs to be able to form an opinion and stand by it. One needs to be able to take criticism from others and not be influenced by others. I liked what Matt said about a leader being “influential not influenced”. I think that a good leader has good morals but is strong enough to make decisions and think for himself.

  2. Megan says:

    I think George Washington was a good leader and a good person. Although he essentially let the Federalists, Hamilton in particular, control his administration, his view, as our textbook states, was that the president should “stand above political controversies,” so he quietly took their side by letting them appear as if they were in charge. By doing this, I believe that he was being the actual leader because he was above it all: he knew what his ideal philosophy was, but he let Hamilton deal with the “controversy” part. I also think that Washington was a good leader because he laid the foundation for a government system and ideology that still exists to this day. That was something that Hitler failed to do, which is why I don’t think that he was a good leader (and also not a good person). In spite of the fact that he influenced many people’s opinions, Hitler didn’t form a plan that was strong enough to last for a long time. Regarding the qualities of a good leader, I think that great leaders should be confident in their ideas, but should also be open to advice. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they should let others control them, but instead should be willing to delegate some of their power so they can reach an ideal for everyone.

    • AlexP says:

      Madison, I agree with you in that George Washington was a good leader (and a good person) because I also believe that good people can be good leaders. Like you said, George Washington was open to others and stayed out of political conflict. He also laid out a foundation for the future of America that still stands today. However, my question is, is a leader defined by what they did at that point in history, or are they known for what the effects were after they were gone? More specifically, I am referring to your point about how GW was, in your opinion, a good leader because he laid out a foundation for government that still is used today, and how Hitler was a bad leader (again, in your opinion), because his regime did not last long enough. In my opinion, I don’t think it is enough to judge the quality of a leader only from their lasting impression on the world because it is often what the leader does during his life that defines him. Hitler did, in fact, influence thousands and thousands of peoples’ opinions, so he must have had some skill as a leader. Regarding an unprecedented death, I feel that one must revert to judging a leader based on the longevity of his effect, but in general, I believe that leaders should be judged more based on the accomplishments during his life.

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