[bylaws] Proposal to modify consensus process
Mon, 31 Jan 2005 20:39:03 -0800
I signed up to this list to start a discussion around a proposal i have
put together. i know it is a little over the top (I always ask for what
I want with the hope of getting a compromise I can live with. I would
appreciate your input to this issue...Forrest
PROPOSAL: Using majority rule when consensus is not achieved on business
and policy decisions
BACKGROUND: The GPCA consensus process has been very successful in
empowering General Assembly members to actively participate in shaping
business and policy decisions. When used correctly, the consensus
process provides a powerful framework for clarifying proposal
ambiguities, allowing all participates to voice concerns, and for
modifying proposals through friendly amendments.
In terms of conducting business, the GPCA consensus model is light years
ahead of typical parliamentary procedures such as Robert’s Rules of Order.
Unfortunately, when consensus on a business or policy item is not
achieved, the bylaws of the GPCA require a supermajority vote of
approval by the General Assembly for the item to be adopted. While the
intent of this practice is to reduce dissention by producing policies
that all can agree on, it has in actuality created a system of gridlock
in which good proposals are often held hostage by a minority faction.
The fall back supermajority voting requirement has lead to a number of
policy problems in the past including long delays on important
decisions, diluting the effectiveness of proposals to appease small
blocks of individuals, and exacerbating the exodus of good leaders who
feel handcuffed by the ineffectiveness of current decision making process.
The use of supermajority voting thresholds also has several
psychological drawbacks. It allows blocking members to believe their
decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of
their decisions. It gives the illusion of unanimity: i.e. members
perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence
by the majority is seen as consent. Finally, it leads to
self-censorship, with responsible members withhold their dissenting
views and counter-arguments in order to move the process forward.
The only way to remove the negative consequences of our current
procedural practices is to use a fall back majority voting system when
consensus cannot be reached. While this means there will be dissent
among some of our members over particular decisions, it is important to
remember that dissent does not mean dissension. Decision making
practices that actively encourage conflict recognize that people can
reach an intelligent decision even when they disagree.
For the Green Party to grow and challenge the two major political
parties it must be able to make timely decisions and encourage the
growth of leadership within our ranks. The only way to achieve this goal
is to stop using supermajority voting when there is not consensus on an
item and move to a system of majority voting to resolve disputes.
PROPOSAL: Decisions of the Green Party of California shall be made at
General Assemblies of the Green Party of California using a
consensus-seeking process as outlined in the Bylaws section 5-8.1 (a-c),
and section 5-8.9 (a – j). When consensus cannot be reached on a
business or policy item, the presenters of the item shall have the right
to call for a vote. The item will only be only adopted if it receives
greater than 50% voting approval from the General Assembly.
The following changes will be made to the GPCA bylaws to accommodate
Section 5-8.1 d shall be rewritten as “Voting will be on business and
procedural questions will require the support of 50% + 1 of the General
Assembly members to pass.”
Section 5-8.9 k (4) shall be rewritten as “A 50% +1 vote is necessary to
approve a business or policy item.”
Section 5-8.9 k (5 – 6) shall be removed
Section 5-8.9 k (7) shall be rewritten as “Abstentions are not counted
in calculating the percentage vote.”