ISSUE-120

120. The effectiveness of a country's leaders is best measured by examining the well-being of that country's citizens.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


How to measure the effectiveness of a country’s political leaders remains an unsettled question. Some suggest that the best way is to examine the well-being of the citizens of that particular country. Although I can comprehend the political theories backing such a claim, I do not fully agree with it. Instead, only looking at the well-being shall we become one-sided. Finally, in some extreme scenarios the well-being must even be de-prioritized.


To start with, it is necessary to define the effectiveness of a leader. To do so, one must ask what a leader’s mission is. There is a school of thought that argues because in modern democracies political leaders are elected officials, they inherently have a legal and moral obligation to work directly for the well-being of their constituents. Practically voters also understand this and will almost certainly look for candidates who are working for their best interest.

A case in point is the modern-day United States, where political candidates will always promise the improvement in well-being to woo potential voters.


However, such a philosophy and practice have a number of potential caveats.

First, the well-being of citizens may not have much to do with how effective the leaders are and does not reflect the true state of the nation.

For example, Venezuela once had good social welfare for its citizens thanks to the income by oil exports. Yet, this cannot justify the rampant corruptions in the government and the eventual collapse of the Venezuela’s economy demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the government. Similar examples can be found today in some Middle East countries, where the well-being of citizens originates from the welfare bestowed upon natural resources. In these cases, the social well-being does not reflect the effectiveness of political leaders, even though in theory leaders have a responsibility to promote well-being.


Perhaps we also need to revisit the criteria for an effective leader and reconsider the role of leadership on a more fundamental level. To me, the well-being of the citizens is only one part of the leader’s mission. They are also tasked with a wide range of burdens, from reducing the inequality in society to defending the interest of the nation.

Some may disagree. They would argue that there is no moral obligation of leaders to do so since they should only cater to the direct need of the voters. Such a rebuttal fails to consider the fact that the collective minds who elect the leaders cannot fulfill such goals. That is why they elect a leader who are better informed and have the necessary capabilities to solve such problems. Hence the responsibility does lie in the leaders. Therefore, there are other metrics to evaluate a leader’s effectiveness.

For instance, effective leaders should close the gap in the well-being of the different social classes; they should also strive for a more just and fair legal system.


In some extreme cases, such as war, the paramount goal of a country’s leaders is no longer the well-being of citizens. In the particular case of wars and national crises, the well-being of its citizens must be placed under the survival of the state.

The United Kingdom during the World War II suffered tremendous loss against German invasion and the well-being of citizens certainly deteriorated. That said, no one would call Prime Minister Churchill an ineffective leader; instead, he was and still highly regarded for his unwavering resolution in defending England and winning the war. When the circumstances change, well-being is no longer the only metric we should use to evaluate a political leader.


To sum up, the well-being of a country’s citizens may not be the best indicator of the effectiveness of their leaders.

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