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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Voters don't know or care about the 'traditional process'

Q: Although Washington D.C. residents give Mayor Adrian Fenty high marks for improving schools and other city services, he's fighting an uphill battle for reelection this week because he is seen as having ignored the traditional political process. Yet President Obama's popularity is also suffering precisely because his patient working of a broken Congressional process limited his accomplishments, diminished his stature and alienated his political base. How should leaders balance the often conflicting demands of achieving dramatic results and building consensus?

Compared to times past, I don't think that most voters know about 'the traditional political process, let alone care about whether it is being followed. Rather, the average voter (should such exist) cares about two things: l) Can I identify with the office holder and vice versa? And 2) Does he/she get done what I'd like to have done? Currently most voters are unhappy with their lot and with the direction of the country. Accordingly, anyone in office, irrespective of what office or what they've done in office, will be on the defensive. Rest assured, no matter what they had done or not done, Fenty and Obama would be on easy street if unemployment were at 4%.

By Howard Gardner

 |  September 15, 2010; 10:32 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Government leadership , Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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