Electing leadership should be the domain of those who will be led and none other

I’ve been giving some consideration to a number of issues, lately, that have taken quite a bit of time to think through. Of recent interest has been the election of a Chairman to the LCRC, said election having been concluded this past Saturday. Throughout the process I was bothered by something regarding the whole procedure and I think it’s time that I speak out on it and that I call upon my fellow members of the LCRC to consider as well.

The LCRC is not the only organization I hold membership in. Most notably, I am a member of the Knights of Columbus (a Knight of the 4th Order, for any fellow Knights who read this) but I am also a card-carrying member of the NRA. And ISSA, a security association of IT professionals. And an alumni member of Delta Tau Delta. All of these organizations have “command” hierarchies with varying levels of leadership, locally and nationally. And every one of them draws the leadership from the membership ranks, elected by the membership.

Well, all of them except the LCRC.

The LCRC, for some reason, is required to throw open the election of its leader to allow participation by any member of the general public who claims to be a Republican and who signs a pledge that they’ll support whatever candidate we nominate for the general elections. Here’s some interesting math from the party canvass this past Saturday: 970 people dropped by to vote in the canvass. Somewhere around 200 people actually joined the committee. In short, roughly 4 of every 5 people who voted in the election to decide who will lead the LCRC chose not to become a member in the organization for which they had a hand in choosing the leadership.

My KofC Council has about 385 Knights. Our parish – the church to which the Council is attached – is comprised of about 1600 families. I’ll give you a huge benefit of the doubt and say that only half of the families have men over 18 in them that are eligible to be Knights. That’s still 800 men of the parish of which slightly less than half are Knights. When it comes time to elect our Grand Knight to lead our Council, we do not solicit votes from the men of the parish who are not Knights.

ISSA does not ask the general population who should be the President of the organization. They ask the members and only the members decide. The NRA welcomes anyone who wishes to join to our ranks. But we don’t ask non-members who the Chairman should be. That decision is restricted to people who hold membership. Delts don’t hold open elections to determine who’s going to be the fraternity’s President, locally or nationally. Delts elect their own.

It’s not just organizations that do this, it’s probably every election in which you’ve ever participated. When the Governor’s race was being decided last November, citizens of Ohio didn’t go to the polls. No resident of Georgia cast a vote deciding between Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds. It worked the same way the closer to home you got. My friend who lives in Arlington didn’t even know who Tag Greason was, let alone got to vote for him for Delegate of the 32nd House District. That decision was reserved to residents of this District.

There’s a simple reason these organizations and localities don’t permit votes by people outside their membership: it is the members who will be led by the person elected and who will benefit from or suffer from their leadership. It is the membership who must give their consent to be governed, as it were, by the winner of the election. What makes the selection of a leader valid, in my eyes, is that decision and the consequences – good or ill – are borne by the people who were involved in the decision.

Of every 5 people who voted last Saturday, only 1 will be required to live with the results. The rest went home and will basically forget all about it. The specific results of this specific election are beside the point; what matters is that people who are not members of the Committee are being allowed to decide who the leader of the people who are members of the Committee will be. While it’s plain this didn’t happen in this past election, it is painfully obvious that this situation lends itself to a result where literally all of the people who chose to become members could vote for a particular candidate for the Chairman and that candidate could still lose. For the following 2 years, the members of the Committee would belong to an organization chaired by someone that the majority of their membership did not want. I fail to understand how anyone could describe that situation as small-d “democratic.”

I believe the process should be changed. Rather than elect a Chairman in an open election, the party should undertake that task as the first order of business after the membership has been decided. There was a deadline date for people to file to become members of the Committee and for people to run for Chairman. That should continue. But rather than allow all comers to participate in the voting for the Chairman, only those people who filed valid applications for membership (and whose applications have been verified as valid) should be allowed to cast their vote. This could be accomplished at the first meeting of the Committee if a special election event is undesirable for whatever reason. Or, we could hold an election just as we did this past Saturday but only members of the Committee would be allowed.

I’m sure there will be those who would call such a change “non-inclusive” and suggest that keeping this process open, as it is today, is a benefit. I see no advantage to allowing people who will not be subject to the consequences of their decision to participate in deciding the leadership of a political party, perhaps even especially at this local level. As for “inclusiveness,” is it too much to ask a person who wants to have a say in who the leader of the LCRC will be that they actually join up? I think not. I believe changing our process to see to it that a Chairman is elected by the majority of the membership will result in a stronger, more unified Committee.

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32 comments

  1. I can understand your questions and desires in the case of the LCRC versus the other organizations. First I would like to point out that the LCRC is that Committee granted the authority by the Republican Party of Virginia, RPV, to manage the affairs of the RPV in Loudoun County only. The LCRC is NOT the Republican Party of Loudoun County. The LCRC is kinda like a management committee selected by Loudoun County members of RPV to serve as their management team. Had there been an over filing of members for the LCRC, that too would have been part of Saturday’s Canvass. All of this is dictated by the RPV Plan and the Voting Rights Act. Also, if you will notice in the party plan the LCRC does not select local candidates for public office but rather selects the process or method by which the Republican candidates will be nominated to represent the (R) in the general election. Any and all members of the RPV in Loudoun County actually do the selection via canvass, mass meeting,or convention. A Loudoun County Member of RPV is defined in Article 1 of both the RPV State Party Plan as well as Article 1 of the LCRC Party Plan, both are available for anyone on the respective web sites.
    This is clearly different than the K of C organization or the Fraternity as the leader selected by each group only controls that specific group. I don’t believe that the Head Knight has management power over the entire Parish. However, it is not so different than say the NRA where all the members of the NRA I assume can vote for their leadership. Hope this helps to understand,. Any questions can be answered via the web sites http://www.rpv.org, or http://www.loudoungop.com and look at the party plans of organization. Or post and I shall try to respond.

  2. Hi John

    Thank you for the information you brought to this. It’s valuable and I appreciate it. That’s a very fine point of distinction you raise, that the LCRC isn’t really the Republican Party of Loudoun County, but rather a component of the RPV. (You referred to it as a “management committee” I believe.) Does this mean that I and others who filed to become members of the LCRC are really just local members of the RPV?

    In fact, although it’s an interesting explanation of the situation (one I accept fully, by the way) it doesn’t actually change the issue. Whether we’re talking LCRC membership or RPV membership, the fact is that the chairmanship of the LCRC is being decided with the inclusion of votes cast by people who are not members of the party. Their political leanings are not the issue; it’s a question of whether they’re members of the party or not. Unless the RPV is saying that anyone who declares support for the party is automatically a member, it’s still a situation where the chairman gets elected by people who will not, themselves, but subject to the ramifications of the vote.

    As to the party plan, what I’m suggesting is a change. I understand that the way it was done this past weekend is the way the party plan currently dictates. My point is that it should be changed.

  3. I agree with Ric, and have discussed with others the same for a long time now. John M. and I have also discussed before. It always struck me as strange, despite the fact that that’s how it is defined by party plan. I also think the LCRC should be able to reform in January so its Chair and Committee can hit the ground running out of the gate, and not have to wait until March.

    Just to clarify, not every NRA Member is eligible to vote for NRA’s Board of Directors, as there is a threshold of membership to be considered a voting member.

  4. OK Ric,
    I understand your point and yes it would require a change to both the RPV and LCRC Party Plans. Now let me clarify one point from you comment, and that is that EVERYONE who voted on Saturday is a member of the RPV by definition. They all signed a pledge declaring their alegence to the Party. That by definition for now makes them a Republican. Now as to your filing to become a member of the Committee, you are a RPV member and have been selected by the RPV Members of Loudoun County to sit on the LCRC. As such you have essentially volunteered to undertake more than a passive role in the affairs of the RPV of Loudoun County.
    The RPV Party Plan calls for the Chairman of all State Committees, Congressional District Committees and Unit (City/County) Committees be elected by the Republican Party members of each group represented by the committee not the committee members. For example at last year’s state convention, Pat Mullins was elected Chairman of RPV, This May 22, someone will be selected as the chairman for the Tenth Congressional District, and last Saturday Mark was elected as Chairman to the LCRC. In each case it was open to any self declared (as defined by party plan) Republican to participate in the vote if they represented the district/unit covered by the committees.
    Hope this clarifies more. I know it does not change your stated concerns/desires.

  5. Ric, you stated it exactly. And that very point will become an important one in the two years to come. Remember when the Call was challenged? That is exactly because the local Committee is subordinate to the RPV, who is in turn, subordinate to the NRC.
    Those who tried to sneak the botched Call past the RPV (and actually defended the abysmal POS by arguing with RPV) forgot that they are a direct subordinate to the Party Plan, as directed by the RPV.

  6. Ric, the sitting committee votes on whether the reorganization takes place through a convention-style format, or primary format.

    Had the existing committee chosen to elect new members and a new chair though a mass meeting, everyone who filed would have attended a convention-style event on the 6th instead of simply dropping by to vote, and members would have been elected from those who filed (had there been an overfiling), and those members would have elected their chair.

    You are correct to point out people raising the issue of inclusion, which is the perennial primary vs. convention debate, but in the most recent contest, the very people who, in a majority, endorsed Ms. Strother, are also the people who decided to have an open primary.

    The provision already exists to reorganize the committee through a mass meeting instead of a primary, however, that was not the decision made.

  7. Barbara,
    Had there been a mass meeting or a convention, all those who voted on Saturday could also attend and vote in the mass meeting or convention. All methods of selection are open to any member of the RPV in the County for the LCRC.

  8. Barbara, for the record: I am not placing blame on anyone for the format or the result of this past Saturday’s election so who did what or recommended whatever are not my issue and not my concern. I’m addressing the issue moving forward.

    Now, I seem to recall a mass meeting in the recent past but I don’t recall whether all the participants in the mass meeting were required to be members of the party. Can you confirm that’s the case? I mean, if the next time we did this and we did it as a mass meeting, would that mean that only people who actually joined the party would participate in the meeting and, thereby, the election of the Chairman?

  9. Attendees of the mass meeting would have been credentialed for admission against the list of those who had filed to join the reorganized committee.

    I am not accusing you of placing blame, and I do think it is a legitimate discussion to have over the selection of candidates for a general election–good points are made on both sides of the convention vs. primary argument there.

    However, for the election of officers in a committee where one must file paperwork and pay a fee to join, I personally think a mass meeting format is a sensible option.

    The argument is in favor of having the committee select its officers from among the committee membership, as you say.

    That argument is made by those at the general candidate level as well–Republicans should select Republican candidates.

    John’s point is universal–everyone who voted affirmed themselves as Republican.

    The only side point I would make given the apparent surprise (to some who had a voice in the method of selection) over the outcome, is that anyone who voted to make that choice as a member of the previous committee shouldn’t criticize it now after the fact (and I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing).

    The choice of method was made some time ago, and it’s up to anyone who joined the committee (and all of those who do–there are about as many slots available as there are members) to see that it works well–on all sides of the current divide.

  10. No No No Barbara,
    Any Party (definition in post above) member can be credentialed to a mass meeting also. They do not need to file in advance. Filing is only for those that wish to stand for election as a member of the LCRC, or Candidate for Chair, or Delegate to 10th District representing Loudoun County Republicans not the LCRC. Had we had a convention, then there would have been additional filings to attend as a delegate the Loudoun County Convention representing one of the 8 specific election districts(ED). And if the EDs would have overfiled for the convention there would have been a canvas or mass meeting at the district level to select delegates to the County Convention. This sequence can go all the way down to the smallest organizational unit, the precinct. The details for all these activities are detailed in Robert’s Rules of Order and the RPV State Party Plan.

  11. John, I have attended previous mass meetings for LCRC reorg, and had to file in advance.

  12. Barbara, John is 100% correct. Any nomination meeting, be it the 2007 Convention or the 2008 Mass Meeting at Stone Bridge is open to all Loudoun County Republicans with a subset being those who are LCRC members or are seeking membership. The are a subset of a set (http://www.basic-mathematics.com/subset-of-a-set.html) and in this example the convention/mass meeting/party canvass is “A” and LCRC members are “B”. I’m with Ric, this process should be fixed at RPV no matter the outcome. It should be fixed at the LCRC level, the 10th District level, etc.

    John, is this somewhat a function of Virginia not having party affiliation?

  13. CSR, I am not disputing John’s knowledge, but I am saying the choice is what affects Ric’s concern.

    The choice to have a simple canvass, as was done last weekend, means convenience.

    The fact that the committee and the 10th convention were not overfiled meant that no one voting had to make decisions on who would be elected to membership in the committee, or who would be elected as delegates to the district convention.

    Had a mass meeting been selected, while yes, anyone could have chosen to participate, it still follows a format that requires a much greater investment of time, whether the meeting has to vote on membership and delegates too or not.

    The last mass meeting I attended was overfiled, and yes, each district had to vote from among a list of those seeking membership.

    That is a political megillah of its own, with various groups providing their own list of members so that people “know who to vote for” by comparing the list of potential members or delegates to the list of the group that recruited them.

    There is an entire process for running such a meeting, as John indicates, and it does take time.

    Even the best organized and best executed take a couple hours of time, which some view as a deterrent to participation.

    However, it does answer what seems to be Ric’s concern, that those who invest the time in membership are those who end up making the decisions.

    And regardless of the points of execution of participation in either method in a yes, state with no party registration, the fact remains that the choice to hold the less-time consuming, easier and more open method was made by the people of the then-existing committee.

    All I would suggest is file the thought away for next time, as the divisions on what method to use are sometimes as bitter and hard fought as any local election.

    If the takeaway by some who did not see the outcome of their choice is that there are merits to demanding a greater commitment in the selection process, then perhaps that is one fight that doesn’t have to be had (again) next time.

  14. Yes in reality the choice of process can have the effect of addressing Ric’s concern, but it does not have to. The methods other than canvass/firehouse primary do require an investment in time by the participants (voters in this case)which tends to reduce participation. And Barbra is correct, last time when Glen was unopposed and there were no over filings, the mass meeting still took two hours after the registration/checkin time. Sorry to be such an anal wonk on this, but I want as many as wish to understand. I am sure there are many that don’t care.

  15. CSR sorry I did not address your last question. Voter registration by party does not really have an impact on this. What the lack of registration impacts is the idea of having a pledge to at least force the participant to declare his republican membership

  16. John, don’t apologize for being a good parliamentarian! lol

    I think a lot more people may care now that participation was so high, and that’s a good thing rather than not, both in the level of participation and in the level of caring.

  17. John’s comments are accurate. The point Ric and I have been making isn’t about the process that is chosen, but rather who should be eligible to vote to elect the LCRC Chair. We think it should be Committee members. Whatever the process, under the current system, all Republicans can participate. A mass meeting usually requires more time investment, but still does not ensure that only members of the LCRC are allowed to elect their leader. Ric and I aren’t talking about one process being superior to the other, just the disconnect over those who are not on Committee having a vote to elect the Committee Chair–regardless of the process to do so. It is what it is until or if party plans are changed. My support for Committee members electing their chair has nothing to do with the current processes or the recent outcome. It’s just the principle of members electing the Chair.

  18. Glen, that usually seems to be part of the argument in selecting the process, which is the only set of choices available at this time.

    Some who favor a mass meeting often point out that anyone can participate in a primary (including Democrats, or others who might wish to leverage the process, with an honor system pledge being little guarantee), and some who favor a primary state that anyone should be able to participate, and that a primary is much more inclusive and party-building (with accusations that those who seek the more time-consuming method want to limit participation, even by Republicans).

    This contest, in some cases, was about as pretty in the lead-up as anything local in Loudoun, but the event itself was excellent, in terms of organization, participation, and energetic activism.

    Having been distressed by some of the uglier aspects of the campaign, I can’t help but conclude that for a very few who were involved in the previous committee (not John, not Ric, not you) the outcome was determined not by Democrats, not by simple non-committee members, but by a majority of the “wrong” Republicans.

    I hope I’m wrong, but the whiff is there in some places.

    Perhaps it is just the difference between the more insular atmosphere of the committee, and the public at large (a majority of whom, I would wager, knew NEITHER candidate well, and some of whom seemed to by mystified by the fervor of the campaign).

    At this point, it is what it is; the committee is filed at a little under half strength, more than twice as many voted as there are slots for membership, and some people deeply involved were obviously surprised by the outcome.

    That may bode better than some think for the committee going forward. The participation was high, and that’s good.

    But no assumptions can be made on either side.

    Everyone to whom it is imprtant needs to participate going forward, in good faith, because 1000 voters is a drop in the bucket of what will be needed this fall, and next.

    Infighting over in house issues are irrelevant at that point.

  19. Glen’s hit it precisely. That exactly the point I was trying to make. The process is irrelevant to my concern. My concern is that people who aren’t members of the committee in question are electing the chairman of that committee and I don’t think that’s right.

    Oh, and while we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind reforming the party in January as opposed to March and perhaps we could talk about doing it every 4 years instead of 2?

  20. All of the above issues, 2 years vs. 4, Committee members only vs. all Republicans would require major Plan changes. Since these current methods have been in place as long as I go back which is approaching 20 years on Committee, I suspect this will take some very very heavy lifting to get done. However, if anyone’s got the heft, its Ric and Glen. Sounds like a good project to do with all your spare time, lol.

    There does seem to be precedence for this in that the elected congress selects it Chairmen and leadership after the members are elected by the public (voters). As do most Boards of Directors for publicly held companies following the vote of the shareholders to select the Board Members. Even our own Board of Supervisors elects from amongst themselves a Chairman. In fact if the Chair of the LCRC either resigns or is removed, the Committee does select the replacement for the remainder of the term.

  21. Yeah, it does sound like more than a weekend project, doesn’t it? (lol!) However, I’m certainly willing to address the issue with the appropriate people. I posted it here to flesh out my thoughts and see if anyone else was thinking along the same lines. John, Glen, any ideas as to who I’d direct a specific query to? What’s the procedure for suggesting a change to the plan?

    (Or do we have to build one, first?)

  22. Well Ric according to Article XI of the RPV plan it can be amended by either a State Party Convention or by State Central Committee. Either method requires a 3/4 affirmative vote by the body. It is a fairly large hurdle, but can be done. The people would be any and all members of State Central which is all Congressional District Chairs, State Party Officials and an addition group of 3 persons eachrepresenting each CD. Oh and each CD gets a fourth member to state central if the congress seat is held by a Republican. You might wish to start with Pat Mullins at RPV or Allison Acocia (sp?) who I think is the executive director of RPV. They could get you headed in the right direction

  23. With regard to building a Plan, I think you need to sell the idea first and garner enough support that amendment on this is possible. Re writing the method in the plan is the easy part. You need an argument that most will support. There are pros and cons to all issues although I cannot say that I would disagree with you and Glen on this matter. This is a political committee and a political party and will probably try to always act in a political way namely an election by all defined party members.

  24. John, minor correction re the BoS: it is the school board that elects a chair each year from among their body.

    The BoS used to before the chair At Large was instituted.

    Agreed that it will take heavy lifting on a long process, and until that is complete, the existing methods are it.

  25. Thank you, John, I appreciate the pointers. I’ll need to polish this argument up a bit since this was really my 1st go at it. I’ll want to get the sense of where members of the LCRC stand on it, first, and then start reaching out past our borders. That’ll have to wait until the next meeting is scheduled, I’d imagine.

  26. You’ll need to research the Voters Act as well to see if any part of what you suggest is in violation of the tenets of that legislation. The Party Plan exist in it’s current form today heavily influenced by that Voter’s Act.

  27. I agree with Ric and Glen. I’ve always thought it wrong for a chairman of a committee to be elected by anyone other than those on the committee. RPV needs to change the rules so that the committee elects its chair, like any other committee in the world.

  28. Barbara-
    Ric and Glen have it pegged. It is a matter of whether non- members of the committee can swing in vote for the chair never to be seen from again. I went to every LCRC meeting to include every LCRC ex-com meeting over the last two years. I saw the same group of party activists over and over and over. Those folks who have only a passing interest in the LCRC and its leadership, should not have the same right to select the chair as I an active member of the committee who will be working with said elected chair while the others sit home. If these folks want to have a say, then get involved, join the LCRC.

  29. “That may bode better than some think for the committee going forward. The participation was high, and that’s good.”

    The problem is we will never see the vast majority again. We will reconvene the committee and it will be the same group of people doing the work.

  30. G, I don’t disagree.

    But until the process John outlines results in a successful change, it is the way it is.

    As such, a mass meeting may be the only format at this time that comes close to approaching any kind of insurance that those who are willing to devote the time are the decision-makers(and in the case of selecting a method of choice, devoting one day to a mass meeting is so much less that the hours devoted to committee volunteer efforts by those who join and work), and get closest to seeing that those willing to get involved on a deeper level actually make the choices.

    Which gets back to the perennial argument between the “insularity” of a convention style method vs. the “openness” of a primary. (or perhaps, “allowing Republicans to select Republican candidates” vs. “letting just anybody walk in and vote”)

  31. Barbara, 800 of the 1000 that voted on March 6 represent an opportunity for further involvment at all levels, and I’d venture that 15-20% of the 800 have worked on campaigns previously. I know quite a few people that are not LCRC members, voted at the canvass and have been active moderately during the past 2 election cycles. We need whatever minor involvement we can get but my guess is the other 600 we will never, ever see again. I’m not complaining because I knew the process and it was a fair and open election.

    I’ll chime in on Ric, Glen and G’s views on this debate and am willing to help and/or participate in investigating this change. John outlined the hurdles of a 3/4 vote, but selling the idea is key. I don’t know the landscape for this debate but it is a good one to have.

    FWIW, While working the reg tables I had many, many questions about the process, why it is the way it is, the pledge and what it “meant” – from people in and outside the LCRC. On the other hand there were people that knew little, nor did they care about the process or the LCRC. It was a real mixed bag.

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