Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Is there value in deadlocks in the Active Democracy process?

An acquaintance asked about the wisdom of disqualifying groups that become deadlocked, i.e., triads that are unable to select one of their members to represent the other two in the time allotted for their decision. It seems to me the potential for, and need to resolve, deadlocks is one of the strong points of Active Democracy. I would welcome other points of view, to broaden my perspective.

I think disqualifying deadlocks is a strong point because those who wish to become leaders, must, virtually by definition, have strong egos. As they advance they will encounter others with as strong a wish to advance as themselves. This should produce some intellectually intense confrontations.

The ability to make a selection depends on the characteristics of the participants. Traits we may anticipate in people with strong egos are various levels of obstinacy, persuasiveness. susceptibility to reason and willingness to compromise. These are important qualities, but whether or not their holders will make good leaders (and good public servants) depends on the mix.

If, for example, all three participants are so obstinate they will not act to break a deadlock ... they would rather go down than yield ... would we consider them potentially good leaders? From another perspective, if none of the participants is able to persuade the others that selection is preferable to disqualification, isn't it improbable that they would be good public officials?

There are other aspects. For one thing, above some level, the candidates are assured a public office. Maybe not the office they'd like, but an office in which they can demonstrate their excellence so they can advance further in the next succeeding election cycle. Since disqualification takes them out of the mix entirely there will be an added incentive to make a selection.

In my opinion, candidates that allow themselves to be deadlocked are unlikely to do a good job of representing our interests in our government. Contrary views are welcome.


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