Sunday, November 9, 2008

David Palmer for President

Presidents are leaders, by status and as seen by their followership. They are Commander in Chief of the United States of America and are appointed for the people and by the people. However, all presidents have their own leadership styles. I will use this post to argue that the fictional television character of David Palmer on 24 is an ideal example of a President’s leadership style. I will also analyze Barack Obama’s leadership style in context of David Palmer’s.

In class we discussed the presidential candidate’s leadership qualities, and I believe that David Palmer is a combination of the candidate’s positive qualities and more. Even on this fictional television show, David Palmer represents a history maker as the first African American President. He is straightforward and truthful, always stating what he believes while being reasonable to actions that need to be taken. He understands what people want and need, and is thoughtful, wise, and fair. David Palmer is incredibly ethical and treats others with respect. He is a problem solver, and when he cannot solve a task by himself, he calls on his loyal followers to help. He is humble, but assertive when necessary, and is considerate of other people’s beliefs.

David Palmer’s leadership style is situational. He is able to act accordingly to different issues. He is a transformational leader in the sense that his followers see him as a regular citizen and can therefore identify with him. He mobilizes his people by example, showing them that ethics, morals, and values can be utilized during times of crisis (which happen quite often on 24), and that persistence and consistency can lead the country through these times of crisis. However, even though his morals and ideals remain the same, he is changing and transforming the ideals of others to follow his lead. Burns would say that this is the route to an aspirational goal: change and transformational work by the people.

David Palmer is also a very charismatic leader. Choi would describe the leadership style as a “motivational theory of charismatic leadership…(suggesting) that a charismatic leader generally generates positive individual and organizational outcomes by displaying behaviors that stimulate followers’ needs.” (Choi, 2006) This ideal form of Presidential leadership is to some extent echoed by Barack Obama. Many have referred to him as a charismatic leader. Our class described him as a history maker, transformational leader, mobilizer, servant leader, and creator and protector of his core values: hope, change and unity.

Barack Obama’s 30 minute “Obama Vision” commercial is a great example of his leadership style being very similar to that of David Palmer. The personal stories about middle class Americans illustrated his care for the people as well as showed the viewers how his specific policies would give those families the solutions they needed. He discussed how the country is enduring some challenging times, however we have had even tougher times before and that we will prevail. He spoke of a better future for every American in a new era of responsibility and discussed how in order to get America back on track we need to concentrate on Middle America and not the fortune 500 companies. His optimism and uniting terms show the viewers that this is “Our home” and empowers us to come together to fight for our causes. He said, “There is no liberal America, there is no conservative America… there is the United States of America”.

This charismatic speech is something similar to what David Palmer would say when addressing the nation, making sure to identify with the people, empower them to feel as though they can be a part of making decisions for their country. In Barack Obama’s case, he was able to do this with his nomination to become President of the United States of America. His followers feel as though they contributed to making history. Now, we as a country must wait to see if Barack Obama’s leadership style remains steadfast and consistent and if he follows the ideal path that David Palmer has paved in his fictional television show.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be yelling, “David Palmer for President!”