The Role of Our Government Leaders

Did you ever ask yourself, what should be the role of government leaders? What, exactly, should they be doing for the people, what are they doing for the people (or to the people), and are the two the same? Everyone knows that government leaders pass laws, take our taxes and spend lots of money on the biggest military in the world, Social Security, Medicare and food stamps and other stuff. I have heard many people complain about what our leaders are doing, but I have never met anyone who could tell me exactly what they believed the role of our government leaders should be.

Recently, my daughter showed me a YouTube video about the 8 recognized Indian tribes in Virginia1. In the video, each of the tribal chiefs was interviewed and asked, what is the role of the tribal chief? The answers varied, but there was a common thread among all the answers that basically that no member of the tribe is left out. Here are some of the more specific points.

    • To maintain a sense of community
    • To make sure that everyone has food, shelter, clothing and healthcare
    • To ensure that all members have a say in what the tribe does
    • To want the best for the tribe
    • To do what’s best for the tribe
    • To ensure that the tribe gives back to mother earth2

Another common thread throughout the interviews was the sense of “we” rather than “I” which was expressed by all of the chiefs in everything they said3 4

Now, how does that compare with the role of our leaders? Probably not very well, you are thinking, but is that what we want from our leaders?

I think I can safely say that everyone wants to be secure in their persons and in their homes. So providing security is one of the roles that I believe everyone would agree on. But what does it take to provide that security and are our leaders doing all that they can to provide it? Do more powerful weapons in larger numbers make us secure? Do foreign intervention and war make us more secure? Does building huge walls on our border make us more secure? Can we be secure if some of us are hungry or homeless? Can we be secure if we are sick and weak? Can we be secure if our roads are unsafe or our food is tainted or our water is contaminated? Can we be secure if some people have everything and many people have nothing? Can we be secure if we are destroying our environment, causing climate warming, ocean rising, increasingly intense fire, storms and other weather phenomena?

I think I can also safely say that to be secure we must be strong, we must seek peace and we must avert war – but what does that take? To be strong, we must first and foremost ensure that the basic needs of all the people are met. We must be healthy, well fed, educated and exercised (mentally as well as physically). We must maintain a sense of community and be united in spirit and purpose. To seek peace and avert war, we must be fair in our dealings with others, offer help wherever it’s needed, and avoid injury or insult, admit mistakes and wrong doings and make amends for them. We must honor our word and our commitments, neither of which should never be given frivolously or for momentary advantage.

From my own point of view, we should consider our nation one big tribe and the role of our leaders should be to do those things which will make our nation strong and secure. Unfortunately, the role they have assumed is almost the opposite of the tribal chiefs and that role is making our nation less strong and less secure.

It’s way past time to do something about it.

1 “In Our Own Words – Voices of Virginia Indians”, The American Indian Resource Center at the College of William and Mary, The Virginia Council on Indians, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy,

2 “You can take and take and take, but you have to give back and you also have to protect.” – Carl Custalow, Asst. Chief., Mattaponi Tribe

3 Compare that with the statements of our president.

4 If you want to watch the video, click here.