A good president ...

Un bon président ...

puts their citizens first.

...would consider his people as much as the nation as a whole on each decision.

always does what's best for his/her country.

avoids interfering with peoples' personal lives

cares about his people and does his best to do everything in his people's best interest.

cares about the well-being of the entire country, not the business interests of the top percent.

does what needs to be done, cares for his/her country, and is aware of their surroundings.

improves the lives of those who need it most and acts as a good ambassador to the rest of the world.

is a good leader.

is a leader of a country that knows what will benefit, not only the most people, but everyone in the country.

is an outstanding leader and can exert a heavy hand when needed. Think Teddy Roosevelt, "Speak softly but carry a big stick".

is aware of his actions, personally, nationally, and internationally, strives to be diplomatic, and is open-minded.

is concerned about the citizens of his/her country and is ready to take hard decisions for their benefit.

is forward-thinking and able to instill optimism while working towards practical goals.

is intelligent and has his country's best interests at heart.

is not possible. Despite everyone choosing a certain someone to lead their country, everyone has this and that to say about that person once chosen.

is one who can lead his people through the worst of times.

leads by example and is incorruptible in character.

one that can bring together both sides of congress, negotiate with other world leaders and set a good example in personal and public matters.

surrounds himself with a good team, makes rationale decisions and takes the initiative on projects.

works for the people, not himself and his friends.

arrive à satisfaire, plus ou moins, la majorité de ses citoyens

assume les difficultés liés à ses fonctions et n'hésite pas à prendre des décisions.

écoute son peuple.

c'est celui qui réalise la justice au faible avant le fort,
celui qui applique la démocratie

est un bon diplomate et respecte les valeurs des électeurs.

est une personne qui pense à l'existence de son peuple

est une personne qui reconnaît avoir un poste difficile et en accepte les responsabilités tout en ayant un esprit de leader "charismatique" afin de favoriser l'union de son pays

est visionnaire, est diplomate, est attentif aux problèmes de la société.

fait passer les attentes du peuple avant ses ambitions personnelles, ne craint pas de ne pas être aimé

fait progresser un pays.

gouverne, écoute, encourage.

ne peut contenter tout le monde.

ne prend pas trois semaines de vacances alors qu'on est en crise, est sincère, fait ce qu'il peut pour tenir ses promesses et n'en fait pas s'il est sûr de ne pas pouvoir les tenir

regarde bien en avant.

respecte le peuple.

respecte les valeurs communes

s'il existe, devrait être conscient qu'il n'est qu'un émissaire d'autres personnes.

se soucie du peuple,
doit prendre des décisions difficiles,
est prêt à se consacrer à son pays

tient ses promesses

veille au bien-être de ses concitoyens


I find it interesting that the responses on both sides are on some level very similar, whereas there are also distinct differences. Both sides seem to think that it is very important that a good president cares about and listens to his citizens. Furthermore, both sides agree that a president should respect his citizen's values, such as their privacy, though the French seem to find this more important than the Americans.

There are however also differences between the two sides. On the American side, it was stated that the president should care about his people more than about business interests and that the president had to be incorruptible. Furthermore, it was stated that it is impossible to be a good president. I agree with this to some extent, because the president can't make everyone happy, and even if he tries his best, many people are still going to think that he is bad. Do you guys think it's possible to be a good president?

In contrast, on the French side, it was stated that the president should acknowledge that he has a difficult job and that he is an emissary of the people. Furthermore, it is expected that he keeps his promises and that he does not take long vacations in crisis situations. Even though, these were not mentioned on the American side, I think the still hold for the United States. What do you guys think?

Nicely put, Sven.  There are definite similarities in that a president should care about his people and not sway to the influence of his friends.

With regard to the differences in our responses, I wonder if the current events in our countries have primed us for our responses to the question of what makes a good president.  I imagine that the current 2012 Election in the US influenced what we thought about when anwsering this question.  For instance, during election times there is an inflated amount of talk about the flaws in both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates which may make a good president seem more impossible.  Has the French president taken a long vacation during a crisis recently?  Or are there other issues that are salient to us in our countries?

I agree with Amanda that during election time the opinion of our presidents/presidential candidates becomes much worse. 

To answer here questions, I believe it was a big scandal when the french president went on vacation during the crisis. I would tend to disagree with the "scandal" part though. The crisis has been going on for several years now. I don't think any president could hold out without taking a vacation every now and then. They will come back refreshed and with a lot more energy than when they left.

While both responses seem to be similar and agree that a good president must be respectful and take care of his people, I find it interesting that one of the american responses was that a good president avoids interfering with people's personal lives. One other interesting response was that a good president does not exist. Could it be that in America there is some general negative feelings toward whomever is the leader of our country? Does this come about from our history or is it a general increase in negative opinions toward potential leaders during elections time as Amanda said? 

@Brigitte: I would say that it is presently impossible to elect a "good President" by the standards of most of the country's populace. During the reign of any President, there will always be large groups shouting for reform, for a better President. Everyone thinks their candidate has the best solution to the country's problems. What I find most interesting is how invested many Americans tend to get in one candidate, so much so that they will readily dismiss serious flaws in their candidate, while they are quick to point out all the flaws with the opposing candidate. People make surprisingly inaccurate generalizations during the elections; I was recently told that "everyone who votes for candidate X is an idiot" by someone I had never met.

Je crois qu'il est impossible d'être en bon président tout simplement parce que les opinions des Français sont très divisées! En revanche, l'honnêteté et la droiture d'un Président mettent, je crois, tout le monde d'accord. Je me demandais de mon côté si, un président (ou plus largement un homme politique) pouvait être jugé après son mandat s'il est soupçonné d'avoir entravé la justice?

Je crois qu'il est impossible d'être en bon président tout simplement parce que les opinions des Français sont très divisées! En revanche, l'honnêteté et la droiture d'un Président mettent, je crois, tout le monde d'accord. Je me demandais de mon côté si, un président (ou plus largement un homme politique) pouvait être jugé après son mandat s'il est soupçonné d'avoir entravé la justice?

To answer Laurence's question, the U.S. president has immunity during his term (probably like the president in most countries). He does lose his immunity after he is done with his term; however, at least in the U.S., there is no precedent to judge/hold him accountable for his actions while in office (at least judicially). Usually it is only his popular reputation that will suffer if he is suspected of having done not so good things in office. Only if it is really bad will it be possible to impeach the president.

I do, however, think that presidents should be held judicially accountable for their actions during his term in the White House. It would probably create a lot more integrity in the presidency (since too many presidents seem to not care about their reputation, unless it's election time).

Sven, do you think there would be any negative consequences of having a president judicially accountable for their actions during his/her term?  Often times they are forced into making very difficult decisions that have no clear correct choice.  Is it possible that they will worry about making a wrong decision due to consequences of being held judicially accountable for their decisions?


It is just a thought :)