Monday, May 10, 2010

Why fear democracy?

It seems to be an iron rule of organizations that leaders are not so much elected by the membership rather they are "promoted" from office to office. Contested elections seem to occur only when an office has been vacated. Very few members dare to challenge those already in leadership positions. There is an orderly succession and everyone knows ahead of time who will be holding what office in the near future.

Let's see, where else have we seen this particular type of governance? That's right. In the old Soviet Union, in China, in Cuba and in North Korea, just to name a few. How's that working out, by the way?

And don't say that's the way we've always done it, either. There are a whole lot of traditions in this country that were (or are) just plain wrong.

Why the fear of a contested election? If someone's a good candidate for an office, why shouldn't there be an election? Are we afraid that a competitive election is going to bruise some egos or lead to some disagreements? So what if they do? The benefit of contested elections is that issues that affect the membership come to the fore. Why would someone run against an incumbent officer? Probably because someone feels there is an important issue affecting the membership that isn't being addressed. Competitive elections are a way of conducting a periodic referendum to find out what issues are important to the voters. How can that be a bad thing?

And, as an aside, if your organization is conducting a contested election, wouldn't it make more sense to send out ballots in envelopes that identify the name of the organization? Sending out a ballot in an envelope marked with the name of an accounting firm seems to be a very effective method of lowering the "turnout."

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