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President Barack Obama Leadership: Americans Awaken to the Limitations of the American Presidency

Updated on November 11, 2011

President Obama Tours Gulf Coast

Face it, the American presidency has limitations and if the American people had the audacity to hope that Barack Obama's leadership style would make the difference, they need to awaken to the fact that American presidential leadership alone is not sufficient to solve the ills that plague the United States of America nor the world.

Indeed, if there has been one lesson punctuated by the presidency of American President Barack Obama, it is that those who hold the highest office in the land have limitations as to what they can accomplish alone. This being the case, it is time to heed President John F. Kennedy's clarion call to ask not what the country can do for us, but what we individually and collectively can to do for the country and the world at-large.

Former President George W. Bush's Autocratic Leadership Style

For five of his eight years in office, former American president George W. Bush was chided for fighting the wrong fights and not responding quickly enough to real threats. Many blamed Bush's autocratic leadership style which left him devoid of all the necessary information to make good decisions in the aftermath of 911 and especially Hurricane Katrina. No doubt Bush had his limitations and now Obama shows that such limitations are inherent to the office of the American presidency.

American President Barack Obama's Participative Leadership Style

When junior senator from Illinois Barack Hussein Obama came along, many American citizens saw one with a leadership style to unite and not divided, to draw many voices into the conversation and thus have access to better information to make better decisions. But no amount of his own audacity to hope nor his inclusive, participative leadership style has allowed American president Obama to solve pressing matters (e.g. the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and reining in Wall Street) any more quickly than his predecessor. Just as former president Bush before him, Obama's leadership style has demonstrated barriers and limitations.

The Hollow Mystique of the American Presidency

While to his credit President Obama has had some political victories such as a temporarily growing economy and some form of universal healthcare coverage, the American people are seeing yet another example of the limitations of being the leader of the free world. Indeed, if the last two presidential administrations are any indication, when taken alone the American presidency has become a hollow mystique and the people of the United States need to realize that a president is only as good as the people who support him.

The American Republic - A Government by the People for the People

Truthfully, the American president is not a god who can magically make things happen the way they are supposed to happen. He cannot wave his hand like Jesus of Nazareth to make a storm disappear or stop an oil leak in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The American Republic was never meant to be a one man show and not even a cult of the personality. The American Republic is a government by the people for the people and the Commander-in-Chief of the United States merely one of us; an equal that we have chosen to lead us more by walking hand in hand together than from pedestal erected high above the crowd.

Each American Citizen Needs to Live up to Their Own Responsibilities

President Obama like every other American leader before him is a mere mortal who cannot be in all places at one time. As such, he needs each person at every level of the operation (both within the government and out in private enterprise) to do their jobs at the best of their abilities at all times. The American President, no matter who they are at any given time, can only do so much and it is up to the rest of us to carry our own weight and unite together for the greater good of the country and globe.

As this is the case, when the American citizenry points at the failures of their top leaders, they are merely pointing at themselves. For a president is only one finite man stuck in the confines of space and time and the success of any country (especially a democratic republic like the United States) is in what the people themselves do each day as individuals and communities united for the common purpose of the common welfare of all inside and outside its borders.

As this is so, it is time to heed President John F. Kennedy's clarion call to ask not what the country can do for us, but what we individually and collectively can to do for the country and the world at-large.


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