BP 14: Power and Government

Donald Trump drew followers and supporters to him through promises, his idealism regarding the country, and other personal qualities. In essence, he is a Charismatic Authority — a leader followers accept and support “ because they are drawn to the leader’s personal qualities”(Openstax, 2016, Section 17.1). Yet when he takes office in January, whether he is prepared for it or not, his role of Charismatic Authority will change to one of Rational-Legal Authority — “power made legitimate by laws, written rules, and regulations” (Openstax, 2016, Section 17.1).

Throughout the presidential election those running made promises and speeches about how and what they would do to change the country. This includes the President-Elect, Donald Trump. The two most prominent oaths he made throughout his run regarded the wall to be built between the US and Mexico and his promise to reform Healthcare and even get rid of Obamacare. He rallied his followers with the call of “make America great again” and supported the right to own guns and more. Whether or not you agree with his ideals and promises does nothing to lessen the fact that Donald Trump is a charismatic leader. In this time of turmoil and doubt in the US, he stepped in and became a beacon, a great one for some and a terrible one for others. He follows in the steps of other charismatic leaders, reminding certain people of the horribly persuasive Hitler and others of the charming influential Winston Churchill. And so regardless of whether or not people voted for a man who made fake promises or really plans to come through on all he’s sworn, doesn’t change the fact Donald Trump is a Charismatic Authority.

Rational-Legal Power is perhaps as different from Charismatic Power as you can get. It relies on already put in place regulations, restrictions, and laws that are not subject to change. When Donald Trump becomes President, he will be the most powerful man in the country…but really, it will be the system of laws, rules, and ideologies that surround and regulate the government that will hold the real power. He could become both a charismatic and a ratiotnal-legal leader, but that is almost never the case for any leader. Donald’s Trumps bold promises and rashness may have gotten him in the seat of power, but unless he can maintain the charisma that got him there and come through on his promises, the rational-legal power running the United States will eat him alive.

If Donald Trump is to be an type of affective leader, he will have to change the majority of his behaviors and beliefs when his power goes from charismatic to solely based on Rational-Legal Authority. In my opinion, he is horrifyingly unprepared for the role of president, relying solely on his Charismatic Authority to get where he’s gotten. The Rational-Legal Power that regulates the government, and makes it so that one person cannot hold too much power, will not mesh well with his arrogant ideologies and rash beliefs. Most of the promises he made that have gotten him to the seat of the presidency will be impossible to come through on based on money restrictions and opposition from others in the government. In result, Trump will have a horrendously terrible time transitioning from Charismatic Authority to Rational-Legal Authority when the time comes.