How important is the character of a President when studying the governing styles of the nation’s chief executive? For political scientist James David Barber, it is very salient in trying to understand how a President governs. Presidential character, as Barber defines it, can be divided into four parts.
1. Active-Positive: Presidents who fall under this category are very active in their job, have high levels of self-esteem, and work hard towards accomplishing goals.
2. Active-Negative: Those who fall under this category tend to be aggressive in their work, but act as if “they were trying to make up for something or to escape from anxiety into hard work.”
3. Passive-Positive: In this category, Presidents tend to lack self-esteem but have a positive outlook on the results of political decisions. They look for rewards from others because of their positive outlook on life, not because of the work that they do.
4. Passive-Negative: This is someone who believes that they have place in the political system, but a.) does little in his work and b.) does not enjoy the work that he has to do. These individuals believe “that they ought to be in politics” despite their sour nature.
In short, Barber goes on to say, “Active-positive Presidents want to achieve results (George Washington, for example). Active-negatives aim to get and keep power (John Adams). Passive-positives are after love (Thomas Jefferson). Passive-negatives (James Madison) emphasize their civic virtue.”