Why the Biden Presidency is Perceived as a Failure
The Psychodynamics of Leadership
I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. Please “follow” me to never miss an article.
Two different but related frameworks are critical in explaining why some leaders are perceived as successful and why others as abject failures. The first is known as the Drama Triangle. It’s composed of three key roles — Victim, Villain, and Rescuer — who are constantly struggle for dominance. The second captures three fundamental ways of responding to extreme conflict and danger: Fight, Flight, or Freeze.
The important thing about both of them is that they are extremely fluid. Thus, it’s all too easy to go from being a Rescuer, or the Proverbial Good Guy/Savior, to that of a Villain, the Bad Guy, and thereby becoming a Victim at the same time. The key point is that if a Rescuer doesn’t Fight hard, long, and effectively enough to help rescue a Victim, then he or she automatically becomes a Villain. And, by ultimately having to leave a situation, as Rescuers must finally do in order for Victims to stand on their own, they are thereby tagged as Villains. In this way, the roles are not only constantly in flux, but interdependent.[i]
All of this and more applies directly to President Biden. Fundamentally, he’s seen as coming far too late to the Fight for Abortion Rights and Gun Control. In this way, he’s seen as both Fleeing and Freezing from important battles. In short, he’s seen as Old, Tired, and Weak.
Yes, his most recent talk about the necessity for greater Gun Control and praising the current passage of Gun Laws was fiery and passionate, but the predominate feeling, especially by young voters, is that it’s too little, too late. The same feeling applies to Abortion and thus only adds to a bad situation. The fact that the President is constrained by what he can and cannot do doesn’t make it any better.
While certainly not using the concepts in this blog, a majority of Democrats feel the same[ii]. While President Biden has many fine qualities, he was primarily voted into office as an antidote to Donald Trump, by far the worst President in U.S. history, and an awful excuse for a human being.
The short of it is that Democrats need desperately to come up with a candidate who not only embodies the best of what we are, but the strength of character to Fight for it. While President Biden’s ardent desire to heal the Nation is admirable and thus bridge the enormous differences that divide us, it doesn’t work with an Opposition Party that is not willing to abide by the rules of Democracy, and even more, doesn’t respect it.
[i] For a more complete explanation, see Marsha Utain, Stepping Out of Chaos, Health Communications, January 1, 1989.
[ii] Shane Goldmacher, “Democrats Sour on Bide, Citing Age and Economy,” The New York Times, Monday, July 11, 2022, pp A1 and A11.
Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.
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