‘Elite President’ and ‘Populist President’ are the two ranges where the pendulum of being a national leader moves back and forth. They are the underlying principles of holding a presidential office. These can be regarded as manuals for dictating how a president operates.
Political analysts argue that being an ‘elite’ or a ‘populist’ is not necessarily linked to the politics manual. It lies within one’s personal conduct and background.
Political influence plays a part in shaping a person’s presidential skill. The inner being will eventually take over as argued by some critics.
The universal view is that a decision to become an elite or populist leader has a bearing on a president’s legacy. It affects appreciation by the general populace, being a civil servant to the masses, and fulfillment of promises made.
The Oxford Dictionary, Educational Edition defines an ‘elite’ person as “aristocracy, the best, first-class people, top people, and nobility”, and the word ‘elitist’ is a synonym of ‘snobbish’.
From this perspective, it is clear that elite people are associated with a superior intellectual, social or economic status. People ranked among the best at executing certain duties.
In defining elite leadership, Forbes used ‘the Four Disciplines Behind Elite Leadership’. These include the following: Extreme Ownership, Extreme Decisiveness, Extreme Clarity, Extreme Trust [Source].
Stephen Finch, in his article titled ‘The 5 Qualities of an ELITE Leader’, described an elite leader in this manner [Source]:
E – Excellence – Elite leaders exhibit qualities of being outstanding in their leadership skills. They are mindful that “everything communicates something.”
L – lifelong learner – Elite leaders are never satisfied with where they are in their growth and personal development. They never stop learning, and as a result, they never stop growing.
I – Inspiring – Elite leaders set the standard for leadership and lead the way for other leaders. They are often seen as “Leaders of leaders”
T – Thoughtful – Elite leaders are always looking for ways to add value to others. They operate from the mindset of “How can I help you?”
E – Encouraging – Elite leaders show the ability to give others support and confidence. They are positive in their example and look for ways to give hope to others for their future success.
An elite president is a leader with prowess. Those qualities are only limited to the president or a few members who assist in the ruling. Such a president boasts of having high class conduct and even higher IQ as compared to other leaders. They believe that there is a crop of people who can be leaders and others are bound to their lower levels.
A populist president is one that conforms to ‘populism’, which is “a specific political style with a popular outlook and leadership type, not an ideology or a political program” [Source].
Such leaders conform to systems that include ‘anti-elite, anti-establishment rhetoric, and orientation’. Populism is also seen as “a political doctrine or philosophy that proposes that the rights and powers of ordinary people are exploited by a privileged elite and supports their struggle to overcome this.
Populists are said to be against ruling elites who are presumed not to act in the interests of the ordinary citizen. They advocate for specific policies because they are popular and propagate democratic principles.
In terms of political policy, a populist president may fight for democracy and the practice of appealing to the interests of the common people.
Elite president vs Populist president
People are usually divided on what kind of a president is best between the elite one and the populist kind.
Elite presidents are applauded for knowing all the necessary information for leading a country since they have high intellect. This means that the president will not face any difficulties when ruling a nation. Populist presidents. Such a mindset works in most cases because unpopular trends are bad and shunned everywhere. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that all popular trends are correct, especially given how diverse our global village is.
Populism’s aim is to challenge elitism for oppressing the democratic rights of the ordinary people. Populist leaders are open to democracy which is key to choosing one’s leader and enjoying equal rights in a country. Thus, saying anyone who is able to lead must be given a chance to compete with the best. But elite followers believe in a class of individuals who are deemed fit to lead. There are only a few people, regarded as a ‘cut above the rest who possess leading skills, and presidents are picked out of this group. Presidents of this caliber are despised for failing to relinquish power when they fail and they can clutch on to positions of power.
Since a president is supposed to serve the masses, a populist president fulfills this act by propagating for the people’s interests. Under populism, a president can work as a servant for the public and is inspired to listen to their demands. Elite presidents can also claim to do the same, but are much more involved in doling out what the people need rather than listening to their outcries or demands.
Populists “regard the elites as bad and the common people as good” [Source] and they despise elites for corrupt tendencies. Being a noble person means the establishment of social classes, and these classes are oppressive because they will not allow other people to develop themselves. Also, an elite administration will spend a lot of money upgrading their social status without developing the nation at large. An elitist view sees the people “as being vulgar, immoral and dangerous” and the elites “as being morally, culturally, and intellectually superior”.
These styles of leadership differ so much in conduct. They explain the stances taken by most world presidents in times of crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic and unstable foreign relations.