Since the dawn of time, fledgling rulers have enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of taking control of the realm. Yet when the crown had settled and the cheers had ceased, it was time to go to work. Almost immediately, their court was filled with councilors, treasurers, and generals advising on the condition of the land. Their message was simple: “This is what you’re getting into. . . now find a way to get us out.”
Perhaps this transitional state is when genuine truth is impressed on leadership, for their vision is never completely aligned with the state of their country. Perspective is everything to leaders. If perspective is lost, then the future of a people could be placed in jeopardy.
In the United States, a newly elected President must rely on department secretaries and agency directors for perspective. Each has their own zone of responsibility and helps with perspective. They are plugged into a massive apparatus. Some candidates complain about big government, but big government helps to keep the country in continuous operation. We have agencies to regulate nuclear plant safety, screen imports for contraband, watch for the outbreak of infection, and provide disaster relief. Federal employees fight forest fires, sweep airports for threats, issue storm warnings, and patrol our waterways. Federal services are a gift and a privilege, the kind of stewardship that some nations may never receive.
Any chief executive would be wise to watch them in practice and hear their concerns as readily as a candidate listens to voters. Let this be their first lesson in governance. The President will understand the actual state of the union long before an address is offered to Congress. The President will learn the priorities needed to keep the country above water. And when a proper perspective has been attained, it may not be so easy to cut funding to match a campaign promise.
Our modern leaders are not so different from the ancient ones. Some have agendas and some have hardly a clue. Some regard their subjects with equality and some have a preference for class. They may absorb the big picture or plod along with tunnel vision. But they will also inherit far more than they ever imagined.