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Why Tribes are Vital to Success in the 21st Century, Part 3: Foundations of American Freedom

This is part 3 of a 3-part article.

Read Part 1 Here
Read Part 2 Here

The most accurate way, then, to diagram the American governmental system is to diagram the local system correctly, then the federal and state levels with their three branches each, separations of power and checks and balances.

But how exactly does one diagram the local level?

The basics are as follows.The true freedom system includes establishing, as the most basic unit of society, local government councils that are small enough to include all adults in the decision-making meetings for major choices.

This system is clearly described in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 1, Chapter 5, and in Liberty Fund’s Colonial Origins of the American Constitution.

These town, city, or tribal councils truly establish and maintain freedom by including in the most local and foundational decisions the voices and votes of all the adult citizenry.

These councils make decisions by majority vote after open discussion. They also appoint mayors/chiefs, law enforcement leaders, judges and other officials.

All of these officials report directly to the full council and can be removed by the voice of the council.

Representative houses and offices are much more effective at the larger state and national levels.

But the point that cannot be stressed enough is: The whole system breaks down if the regular citizens aren’t actively involved in governance at the most local levels.

In this model, every adult citizen is literally a government official, with the result that all citizens study the government system, their role in it, the issues and laws and cases, and think like leaders. Without this, freedom is eventually lost.

Indeed, in a nation where the government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, is it any wonder that a population of unengaged “citizens” is the beneficiary of a government constantly increasing its power at the cost of our freedoms? What other outcome can reasonably be expected?

Once again, the most successful tribes, communities and even nations through history have adopted this model of local governance that includes all citizens in the basic local decision-making.

The result has always been increased freedom and prosperity. No free society in history has lasted once this system eroded.

Tocqueville called this system of local citizen governance the most important piece of America’s freedom model.

Today we need to better understand the foundations of tribal culture so that we actually, truly begin to understand local and tribal governance in a system of freedom.

This will be vital to the future of freedom in a world where the new tribes are taking the place of historical communities.


Oliver DeMille is the founder and former president of George Wythe University, a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd Online.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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  1. Janiece Sloan says

    I must take a moment and give my thanks for these thought-provoking articles. I enjoy the perspectives and opportunities to consider the ideas presented through this website.

    This article about our Tribal Roots is of particular interest to me as a number of years ago I became intimately involved in studying, then participating directly in local government. To be honest, what I found there was disturbing. It was plenty apparent that there needed to be more involvement by the citizens, yet I could also see that was not enough. It was apparent that the forms are all wrong. Ironically, there was a huge deficit of understanding even current forms…myself included until I was intimately involved and advocating a change in forms, not to mention widespread education of current forms. Unfortunately, my own ignorance kept me from being more effective.

    I embarked on a further quest to find how the founders set up local government, searching for the founding documents. My quest was cut short, but not forgotten. I am anxious to study further and appreciate the author’s references. The sense of importance of understanding this has never left me. I have no doubt that understanding our tribal roots is vital to freedom and our future.

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