Personality Test
George Washington - Guardian Supervisor (ESTJ) Mother Teresa - Guardian Protector (ISFJ) Albert Einstein - Rational Architect (INTP) Margaret Thatcher - Rational Fieldmarshal (ENTJ) Mikhail Gorbachev - Idealist Teacher (ENFJ) Eleanor Roosevelt - Idealist Counselor (INFJ) Elvis Presley - Artisan Performer (ESFP) Jacqueline Onasis - Artisan Composer (ISFP) Dolley Madison - Guardian Provider (ESFJ) Queen Victoria - Guardian Inspector (ISTJ) Walt Disney - Rational Inventor (ENTP) Dwight David Eisenhower - Rational Mastermind (INTJ) Thomas Paine - Idealist Champion (ENFP) Princess Diana - Idealist Healer (INFP) Charles Lindberg - Artisan Crafter (ISTP) George S. Patton - Artisan Promoter (ESTP)
Personality Test

The old argument over whether the individual shapes history or whether history shapes the individual is unlikely ever to be resolved in a manner satisfactory to everyone. All the same, it seems clear that the character of the President can have a powerful impact upon the course of events and the temper of the times. Once again, the steadfast and industrious Washington stands out as a man whose Guardian character provided virtues nearly perfect for safeguarding and stabilizing the fledgling nation. Lincoln's long range perspective, his Rational's strategic frame of reference, and his ability to stay aloof from the Civil War's whirlpool of hatred, not only shaped history during his life, but have been immensely important to the entire course of the nation's subsequent history.

The wolf-like Andy Jackson's zest for evening the score, his Artisan charisma and egalitarian view of government did much to make electioneering more populist--and fun-filled--than it had been before. But his high-handed promoter behavior also helped precipitate an economic crisis that made the tenure of his hand-picked successor, Martin Van Buren, most difficult. And Jackson's eight years in office, with the Red Fox of Kinderhook whispering in his ear, also solidly institutionalized the spoils system: government positions given to political supporters as a means of self-serving political patronage. Political patronage and its close relative, political corruption, have been problems in American politics to this day.

The eight Presidents from Jackson's time until the Civil War were either Artisans or Guardians, none of whom could find an adequate solution to the problem of slavery. Every one of these Presidents was trying either to maintain the status quo or to foist off on the country some temporary palliative. Perhaps no one could have made a difference, for the problem was horrendous, and Lincoln himself acknowledged during the Lincoln-Douglas debates that he didn't know what to do about it. If there had been an Eleanor Roosevelt or a Mohandas Gandhi available, a diplomatically astute Idealist who could have worked face-to-face with the major advocates of each side, then perhaps a peaceful solution could have been worked out and a half million lives could have been saved.

In later days Kennedy's Artisan disregard for Eisenhower's well-laid plans led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, a debacle which has haunted the United States' Caribbean relationships ever since. But that same Artisan character also led to Kennedy's Operator-fashioned tactical victory in the Cuban missile crisis, with results whose importance transcend the merely military. The Artisan Lyndon Johnson's politics of personal power resulted in some unpalatable manipulations, but also led to a powerful civil rights program, something in which Johnson himself had a personal interest.

Arguably, then, the character of the Presidents has played a major role in shaping American history, and presidential character will doubtless continue to do so. How an informed electorate might take advantage of this idea, however, is difficult to imagine. No temperament guarantees success or failure, no character is free of flaw or of virtue. Goodness and greatness, triviality and meanness, are not to be found in any particular temperament, but rather in how the individual unfolds that temperament.

As we said at the end of the last chapter, the Idealist's political vision exists largely as a personal expression, so Idealists who seek some special political goal are more likely to generate movements or organizations than to join them. This was the case with Eleanor Roosevelt, who initially fell back on the power she had through Franklin's position, and Gandhi, who labored for years to generate a movement. The success of these personally-inspired movements depends upon the strength and expression of the vision that inspires them. But it is unlikely that any vision will be powerful enough to offset the dominance of the political party system in the United States, so there is little likelihood that an Idealist will ever attain the presidency.

The conspicuous absence of Idealist Presidents underscores that people choose to become--or avoid becoming--involved in politics for reasons specific to their temperament. There do seem to be character-related motifs which determine the choice to enter or to avoid political life.

Guardians, for instance, are sensitive to their place in the social hierarchy. They work hard to get and keep their rightful place in their group, and the prestige and dignity which properly accompany that place. As in the case of James Polk, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon, they sometimes look to politics as a way to do this, since they may find in politics a chance to be of service and to be recognized for it with enhanced prestige and higher status. People can also try for advancement by gradually earning recognition as good employees, or in politics, as good party men. People can even aspire to the CEO position: the top, the final recognition, the highest status possible with its attendant prestige--in American politics, the presidency itself. Given all this, we might expect the political life to capture the interest of many Guardians.

Artisans, in contrast, are more likely to be drawn to the excitement, the contest, the game. They will usually be the political wheeler-dealers, typified so well by Martin Van Buren and Lyndon Johnson. They are the supreme opportunists and they are attracted by the opportunities that political life offers. Politics, especially national politics, is the opportunity to score big, to have fun, to adventure, to enjoy. Best of all it is their chance to impress, to influence, to have impact.

Rationals usually find less personal satisfaction in political office. They are more likely to seek office in order to execute some strategy, whether political or economic. They may have some sort of vision or master plan for the well-being of the nation; or they may wish to bring reason and coherence to the office in place of what they see as the blunders or the lack of direction of the incumbents. Or they may aspire to the presidency as the final evidence of their own competence, their own capability, their own vision. Of course what is most likely is that, like John Adams, they will combine both personal aspiration with some broad strategy in national or international politics.

 

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