On Independent Political Report, David Colborne writes:
"Regarding parliamentary rules, I find it absolutely amazing how, at every Libertarian event (and this is a personal observation, not an official one), the probability that an LP meeting will devolve into rules lawyering approaches given enough time.
"I don't know if it's a personality situation or a design flaw in Robert's Rules themselves but it's absolutely maddening."
I too have noticed that some LP officers and delegates (usually of the Reform/Republican Lite faction) use Robert's Rules not to enhance debate, but to stifle debate and participation, and to "gum up the works" so as to block certain agenda items from passing.
For instance, at one LPCA convention, a couple of LP members didn't want an anti-capital punishment platform plank to reach the floor for a vote, fearing it would pass. So they engaged in endless trivial debate and questions on preceding platform proposals, until the clock ran out.
(A fairer approach would have been to give every platform proposal time for a vote, irrespective of whether there had been time for floor debate.)
There are other examples. If you've attended enough LP conventions, you've likely seen some abuse of Robert's Rules.
So last year, I suggested on IPR that the various state and national LP's dump Robert's Rules, and amend their bylaws to read:
1. The bylaws shall govern the LP.
2. Any issue not covered by the bylaws shall be governed by the common sense of the members, officers, or delegates, to the extent that they have any.
3. Anyone is free to consult Robert's Rules, or a dictionary, or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy, or their astrologer, or whatever else for additional guidance, but under no circumstances shall the LP be bound by anything other than the bylaws as interpreted by the common sense of the members, officers, or delegates.
We need rules? Fine -- we'll use the bylaws and naught else. Common sense will fill in the blanks. It may not work, but it can’t get worse than using Robert's Rules.
On that same IPR thread, Robert Capozzi pointlessly responded: "And that’s the rub. What constitutes 'common sense,' and how is that determined?"
To which I replied:
There is no "rub." I already anticipated and answered your objection in my initial posts.
I said: "Any issue not covered by the bylaws shall be governed by the common sense of the members, officers, or delegates, to the extent that they have any."
I intentionally set a very low bar. The members may have the common sense of Socrates — or of a soiled napkin — it doesn't matter. We'll use whatever "common sense" they can muster.
Why? Because as I said, "Common sense will fill in the blanks. It may not work, but it can't get worse than using Robert's Rules".
You see? No "rub." Whatever level of "common sense" the party can muster, it can't be any worse that the current, deliberate misuse of Robert's Rules to stifle dissent.
I stand by that. I don't think the average Libertarian has any more common sense than your typical Democrat or Republican, but at least they'd be better off relying on whatever common sense they can muster, than being prey to the parliamentary tricks of their slicker and less honest party members.
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