Friday, July 6, 2012

Stumbling Towards Chinese Democracy?

At the beginning of the 2006 General Convention, Crusty Old Dean bumped into a bishop and began talking with him about some upcoming legislation, figuring this person would be the chair of the relevant legislative committee.  The bishop stopped me (COD does tend to get worked up) and said, "I'm not the chair, talk to Bishop X."  COD was surprised:  the person in question was an expert in this area, with years of experience, and had served as chair of the legislative committee in question (recall at General Convention there are legislative committees for House of Bishops and House of Deputies that meet concurrently) for several conventions.

"I'm a candidate for Presiding Bishop," he said, "and when someone is a candidate for PB, we don't put them in any prominent positions of leadership like chairs of legislative committees or giving daily devotions in the House, because it wouldn't be fair to put that person in a position of prominence whereas another bishop might not have those opportunities."

Would that the House of Deputies followed a similar way of being.  COD was stunned to hear from deputy colleagues that two candidates for elected office had prominent roles in the orientation session for deputies.  What's more, they were wearing their campaign buttons.  Could no one see the impropriety of this, or perhaps considered letting someone else lead the orientation session other than declared candidates for office?

Perhaps this is why no other major candidates have announced their intention to run other than the ones we have so far.  The current candidates include someone from the PHOD's council of advice and the current chancellor to the PHOD.  There is one other candidate declared for PHOD, to be sure, but frankly COD is disheartened and disappointed there have not been other people who have stepped forward.  COD has spoken with several people over the last few weeks, asking them to consider either VP or President.  All -- and for good reasons -- have declined.

Which leaves with a fait accompli -- which is what concerns COD.  COD knows the candidates, thinks quite highly of them, and knows that they will do wonderful jobs, they have the background and experience.  But lack of discussion and debate, lack of viable and differing candidates, is not healthy for any democratic organization.

And putting candidates in places of prominence did not help COD's mood.  Are we slouching towards Chinese democracy, with the Politburo anointing their successors for acclamation?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, especially considering how we legislative aides and other staff were encouraged to present ourselves in a non-partisan manner, and I have complied by wearing no buttons nor expressing an opinion when I am talking about "my" committee's work. Apparently this is not a universal standard.


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