Personality and Political Leadership Explored: Richard Nixon and the Family Assistance Plan
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This thesis explores the notion of personality as it impacts presidential behavior. Relying on the arguably fragmented field of personality and policymaking, the paper offers a case study of President Richard Nixon's experience with the Family Assistance Plan, a landmark piece of welfare reform. In contending that character is most evident in situations that are less structured or that permit individual expression, I argue that President Nixon's personality greatly impacted his rhetorical style and was also evident through his reluctance to conduct bargaining with members of Congress. To add rigor to the analyses, I borrow heavily from the work of Erwin Hargrove (1998) who, in putting forth a model of political leadership that draws upon elements of moral commitment, character, integrity and cultural discernment, holds that effective democratic leadership combines strong personal aptitude with a coherent assessment of what action history will permit. Furthermore, this thesis contends that President Nixon failed to discern the grains of history that had characterized past welfare reform; the proposed major overhaul of welfare, commenced in the aftermath of the War on Poverty, was attacked from both the left and right, and thus failed to make it intact through the 91st Congress.
- Masters Theses