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Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war

This verse is from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1601) and is a statement made by Anthony after Caesar is murdered and he realizes that this will lead to war.   This may seem like an odd choice for a blog on being a tribal leader (and perhaps any other time of blog entry).  Being a leader for a Tribe is mainly a job focused on meeting the needs of tribal members, managing the daily administrative and political affairs of the Tribe and its community, and handling the duties associated with each member’s office (for me that is being Treasurer).

A Community Divided Against Itself & a Brief Respite from War

But every two years our Tribe has its elections for the governing body – the Tribal Council – and those who are up for election that year face another roll if they run for office again.  Being an incumbent in a typically small community where family relations dictate more who wins an election rather than qualifications and accomplishments.   As our election draws closer this verse from Julius Caesar reminds me how personal and intense election campaigns can become.  For a number of years we have luckily avoided many negative campaigns that in the past turned ugly in terms of personal attacks and a candidate and even their family members to violent acts by tribal members against other tribal members.

Something Evil This Way Comes

This title from an old movie has reawakened old feelings and memories of our past election.  I sense that this election cycle will see us return to our old methods of tearing each other down instead of trying to work together to make a better community for our people.  This sense of dread I feel comes as that one of the main individuals who initiated and coordinated these types of campaigns in the past as returned to our Tribe and places on running for office (a person who has a personal grudge against me for something because a close family friend beat him in one of our elections in the 1990’s).

This is a person who is more interested in revenge rather than what is best for the tribal members and the community.  But I am also keenly aware of the fact that negative campaigning does work – if it didn’t it would be such a common tactic used by most campaigns in this country.  This brings me to the question and dilemma that I face as I approach the start of our two-month campaign window.

Taking the High-Road or Climb Down in the Sewer

So now I must prepare a re-election campaign with a realization that there are dark clouds on my Tribe’s horizon.  Do I ignore this man’s negative campaign and focus on what I have done and the positive results, as well as my outlook for my position and the future of the Tribe or do I return to the old cycle and prepare my own negative campaign as well and damn the consequences, or do I develop a campaign using both approaches?

This is the decision that I face and, believe me, it’s a lot harder that one would think.  Everyone thinks that the high-road is always the best and I have always believed that.  But when you are in a struggle for your future, as well as the future of your family and community is there a time when you must cross that line and fight fire with fire.  Cry “havoc” and let slip the dogs of war reminds me that while I am normally a person that believes that focusing on the positive is the best way to approach any situation that I also realize that there is a war brewing and there will be casualties in this election.

Just Because You Can Fight Does that Mean You Should?

I know myself better than anyone else and realize that I should I choose to enter that arena I am well-prepared for that type of battle.  A war is not something that I want but I am more than capable of taking that low road just as many people are (there is a dark side in most people sad to say).  But because I can do it does that mean that I should do it?

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