Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

When Will the United States Next Have a Transformational President on Domestic Policy?

I was catching up on some of the journal articles I’ve accumulated to read over the last year and I one caught my eye: “Transformational and transactional presidents,” by Joseph Nye, Jr. In the article, Nye makes the case that presidents didn’t matter (as much) to the US developing into a great power as we may have previously thought. Furthermore, Nye makes the case that our definitions of the two types of leadership aren’t clear and that the preference for transformational leaders is misplaced.

One of the parts that I enjoyed about this brief article was how Nye identified that presidents can be transformational and transactional at the same time. How? Because there are many different facets to a presidency and so while a president may be transformational in domestic policy, they might not be in foreign policy. Similarly, they can not be transformational in foreign policy early on in their term, but become transformational in response to external events.

Upon finishing the article, I was left wondering if (when?) the United States will again have a transformational president, with regard to domestic policy. Nye didn’t make this case in the article (but maybe he did in his book?), but based on his definition of transformational leaders, with regard to objectives [seeking major change], President Obama was certainly a transformational president. Obamacare is a sweeping change to the way that the US administers healthcare to its people. At the time, President Obama also enjoyed majorities in both the Senate and the House, so this kind of change was more possible (especially more possible than it is now. Can you imagine Pres. Obama trying to pass anything close to Obamacare with the GOP-controlled House and Senate?)

Given Hillary Clinton’s speech this past weekend, I’m inclined to think that she has ideas about domestic policy that would make her a transformational president. However, based on what’s been written about the likelihood of the GOP to continue to hold the majority in the House (redistricting, etc.), it doesn’t seem like there’s likely to be a Democratic-controlled House for the next few election cycles. It’s possible that the Senate flips back to the Democrats in 2016, but they’d need the House to also make a “big change.” So, it seems that, if there’s going to be a transformational president (on domestic policy), it’d have to come from the GOP.

I haven’t been following too closely the candidates from the GOP side, especially with regard to their domestic policy ideas, but is there a transformational president amongst them? There could be, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. If neither party is able to sweep the polls in 2016, we might be waiting for a transformational president on domestic policy in the US until at least the next decade.

ResearchBlogging.orgNye, J. (2013). Transformational and transactional presidents Leadership, 10 (1), 118-124 DOI: 10.1177/1742715013512049

Over 40% of the World’s Population Will Vote in 2014

A few days ago in a post about global museum attendance, I mentioned that there were going to be a number of people voting across the world this year. In fact, that number is almost 3 billion. That’s right — over 3 billion people will be voting in an election this year. The total world population only broke 3 billion in the 1960s.

The Economist had a great graphic showing the different elections there was going to be this year and I thought it was worth taking a closer look at.

For instance, as you might expect there are nearly no elections taking place during the summer months. In fact, from May to September, there are only 2 elections taking place, whereas, aside from December, there is only one month that has only 2 elections (January).

Any election is important and has lasting repercussions, but one of the elections that I’m most interested to see the results of is the election in South Africa in April. This past November, South Africa opened voter registration and had over 2.5 million people register. Of those 2.5 million, 1 million were new voters. There will be another voter registration taking place in February of this year. There are quite a few people expecting the current party in power (African National Congress) to lose quite a bit of their support. Since 1994, all the Presidents of South Africa have been from the African National Congress (ANC).

Currently, the African National Congress has almost 70% of the seats in the National Assembly. The polls are predicting the ANC to lose some of their seats. In fact, support is expected to drop nearly 10%. If this hold true, the ANC would still have a majority of seats in the National Assembly, but there are still many days between now and the election in early April. If that support were to dip below 50%, it would be the first time since 1994 that the ANC had less than 200 seats.

What Will the Obamas Do in 2017?

Today’s been a bit hectic. I rode the bus from downtown Ottawa to get to the airport. The “hectic-ness” stems from the fact that it was quite snowy outside. The visibility was quite poor and I was sure my flight would be delayed (it wasn’t). Right now, I’m sitting in the Toronto Island Airport (not the much more known Toronto Airport, which is actually almost in Mississauga) and waiting for my next flight.

In amongst my travels today, I had the chance to see Pres. Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial. I knew that it was today, but I also knew I wouldn’t have much time to watch it today. As I was getting ready to board the bus in Ottawa, I saw some folks on Twitter talking about this being one of Obama’s best speeches yet. He’s certainly delivered some doozies in his time, so I wondered if the rhetoric was hyperbole. As it turns out — it’s not. I buffered the speech and watched it at 30,000 feet. It was… awesome. And I don’t mean awesome in the way that the word has been co-opted to mean as a form of slang. The speech was awesome.

There were so many great portions of the speech that I’d be hear all day if I were excerpting. One part in particular I wanted to highlight:

The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important.

Essentially, we’re not finished, yet. We’ve still got work to do. (If you want to watch video of the speech, this is all I could find with airport WiFi.)

Update: as expected, there’s a YouTube video of the speech.

Pres. Obama is the 44th President of the United States, so he belongs to a unique club of people. No doubt, history will remember him. However, he’s also one of the youngest presidents in a time in history where people are living longer than ever. As a result, I’m infinitely curious as to what the Obamas will do post-White House. For instance, look at Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton went on to be a United States Senator and then the Secretary of the State (and maybe one day, President). Bill (along with Hillary) created a foundation and have been effecting change the world over.

There are probably an infinite number of things that the Obamas could get into, but I wonder which issue excites them the most. That is, where do they want to leave their mark on history. Given the way that Pres. Obama speaks about equality, social justice, and social rights, it seems like a natural fit for him.

Of course, the Obamas probably aren’t thinking about that right now, but that time is not too far away for them. We’re almost finished with 2013 and the 2014 midterm elections aren’t even a year away. After that, it’s essentially “open season” on candidates announcing their intentions to run for President.

The Time I Saw Nelson Mandela and the Earth Quaked

Nelson Mandela at the SkydomeWhen I was in elementary school, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to see Nelson Mandela in person — at the Skydome. It was a very impactful experience for me and it’s one of my shiniest memories. It happened about 15 years ago when Mandela came to launch the Canadian Friends of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. I was in a Kindergarten to Grade 8 elementary school and two students (one male and one female) from each grade were getting the opportunity to go to the event at the Skydome. I don’t quite recall how I got picked, but at the time, I remember thinking that it was pretty cool I was going to get part of the day off from school to go see Nelson Mandela.

Early I said it was one of my shiniest memories and it was an impactful experience. I don’t really remember many of the different events that happened that day, but a few things are quite clear in my mind. On a side note, it seems I wasn’t the only person who doesn’t remember everything from that day. One of the things that I remember clearly is the song or at least one of the songs. After some brief searching, I was able to find it on YouTube. You can hear it in the beginning of this video:

Those singers continuously repeating his name and then when he makes an appearance by way of a golf cart. I remember that. Also, when he made his entrance, I remember this roar overcoming the crowd. I remember that in our section, we were banging our feet on the stands to add to that excitement in the crowd. I’d been to baseball games at the Skydome before, but I didn’t remember ever hearing the crowd become so loud. That whole experience, I remembering being a bit awestruck. I was a bit young to really comprehend everything that was part of what happened to Mandela, but I suppose part of me knew it on a visceral level and that’s what made the event so impactful.

On the topic of crowd loudness, when we got back to school later that day, in the playground, I remember folks asking me if we felt the earthquake. Earthquake, I thought. They continued on by saying that there was an earthquake (!) while we were at the Skydome seeing Nelson Mandela. This, along with that song, are the two things that really stick out in mind about this event. I had thought that the crowd was just “that” loud to Nelson Mandela, but maybe part of our loudness was amplified by some sort of rumble in the Earth.

So, whenever I think about Nelson Mandela, I remember that song and the joy that we all had singing his name. I also remember that the first time I saw Nelson Mandela, the Earth moved.