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Needs Of The Individual Do Not Satisfy The Needs Of The Whole
GRE topic: Some people believe that in order to be effective, political leaders must yield to public opinion and abandon principle for the sake of compromise. Others believe that the most essential quality of an effective leader is the ability to remain consistently committed to particular principles and objectives.
Instructions: Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.
It is known that leaders must possess a wide range of skills and qualities to be effective. They must know how to deal with intimidation, negotiate peace, and manage the nation’s economy, military and top government officials. People differ about which qualities are the most important for burgeoning leaders. Some believe that holding steadfast to particular principles and objectives is an important quality because it is necessary for a leader to see things through. Others, however, believe that leaders must be flexible and yield to public opinion when principles are not serving the public well. This essay attempts to describe why a great leader needs to yield to people’s opinions and abandon principle for the sake of compromise.
Leaders are under an ever greater pressure than their denizens. Sometimes they must ignore their own religious principles to make for the safety and welfare of their people. Christian American Presidents have had to break their religious vow of never murdering anyone and send our service members overseas to kill those who threaten our freedom. These leaders also did this knowing that many of the troops would never make it home. However, it was a compromise the leaders had to make; send troops to kill (and be killed) or leave the U.S. open to attacks that would kill thousands of citizens. The responsibility of subjecting innocent troops to being murdered and ordering them to murder rests on the leader’s shoulders.
Other instances that come into play are when leaders must accommodate the needs and opinion of the public. Many Catholic Presidents have been pressed to ban abortion and contraceptives. However, doing so would have a detrimental effect on the population and economy. Women would seek dangerous illegal methods of abortion and die or become permanent injured in the process. Teenage pregnancies would result in uneducated parents who must go on welfare to support their families. Poverty would increase, and the government would not be able to support these cases with such limited funds – without budget cuts to other departments. In addition, many citizens would argue that a ban on abortion and contraceptives infringes their freedom to be responsible for their own health. No matter how much leaders disagree with the public, sometimes they must set their values aside and provide the people with the services they need to provide for their welfare and sustain order.
A dictatorship occurs when a leader ignores the welfare of the public and behaves in ways that benefit mostly those in power. The U.S. government was formed with 3 branches (judicial, executive, and legislative), each of which has the power to monitor and manage the others. The legislative branch can impeach and remove the President and Federal officers (executive branch) from power. This system of checks and balances was established to ensure that the President would never have the power of a dictator and can be removed from office if he behaves selfishly, acting in ways that compromise the welfare of the people. Therefore a President is obligated to put the people’s needs first, before his own principles.
Of course, there are instances in which the public is not educated to make decisions on matters and their preferred course of action contradicts what is necessary or feasible. An example of this is people who want to completely hault deforestation immediately when we have not replaced all of our paper and forest products with alternative materials. The U.S. is the #1 consumer of forest products in the world. Another example is people who want the entire population to immediately switch to electric cars to reduce green house gas emissions. However, that would put more than 100,000 mechanics out of work who do not know how to fix these devices. Alternative products must be introduced slowly so that people working in the industry can be fully prepared, obviating the risk of making their jobs obsolete. In these cases, it is often not the President’s principles that are preventing him from yielding to public opinion, but rather logistics of the problem. This is why we have 3 branches of government and only one of them can impeach and remove the President.
Any person serving in a public office is considered a servant of the people. As such, a leader’s ethics are often compromised for the welfare and security of the nation. His values will differ from many of his citizens. However, when managing the workings of the country, he must ignore his convictions and wants and think about the needs of the country. This is because the needs of the individual do not satisfy the needs of the whole. Our culture is constantly evolving. We are faced with unprecedented issues, such as same sex marriage, genetically modified foods, and global warming. Therefore, it is more important for a leader to be flexible with or considerate of the needs of the public, than to hold steadfast to principles and objectives that do not address these emerging issues.