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Voting for Capacity for Governance

When we vote in a western democracy, we have our reasons to cast a vote. Some of us vote on tradition, casting our vote for the same political party in the same way we have in the past. Some of us vote for the charisma of the party leader, even if we cannot elect him or her directly. A few of us vote on the quality of the candidates on the ballot. Some of us cast our vote for the party that seems to be willing to deliver the most goodies for people like us. And some of us are affected by the quality of the ground teams and negative advertising.

In Voting for Good Character, I stated that the TDG should educate its members to vote on this criterion. But it should also let each member decide what constitutes “good character.” As these members mature in their voting decisions, they will be casting their votes differently—and more wisely.

In a like manner, voting for “capacity for governance” is a mantra the early TDG builders should instill in its members. But, similarly to “good character,” the TDG members will define what “capacity” means to them.

For example, I would put “friendliness” high on my list of capacity for governance for my neighborhood representative. I would vote for a neighbor who I find approachable to discuss all sorts of things. My belief is that such a neighborhood representative will help turn my neighborhood into a more vibrant community. And with a more vibrant community, we will improve our local governance.

But this is just me. I would encourage all TDG members to determine what constitutes “capacity for governance” in their ideal representative. Then search out the neighbor that best exemplifies this characteristic.

All TDG members are eligible for TDG elections at the neighborhood level. There is no nomination process to get a short list of candidates to print names on a ballot. Voters write in the name of their preferred neighbor by secret blank ballot.

The TDG representative will be a volunteer position, probably taking about 20 hours a month. This means going to meetings at the district level plus conversing with neighbors about the TDG. Obviously, the representatives will need to do some time-and-life management to attend these meetings. Some people may find this easy. Other people have family and occupation constraints on their time.

For me, I would not put much emphasis on these constraints if I really wanted a certain neighbor as my representative. Give that person the job for the year and see how they adjust their time to attend TDG events. If they can’t, then I would vote for someone else next year.

I probably wouldn’t vote for someone with a serious health challenge. Even if my neighborhood representative has been a capable incumbent for several years, I would not vote for him/her. That person needs the rest; and a healthy person should take on the task. But you might think differently, and that would be your right.

If I was elected to the higher tiers, I would cast my vote toward the higher-tier representative who best knows how to reach consultative decisions. I would be looking for the person who asks other people for their perspectives—and to clarify those perspectives. Such a person is helping all of us to see the bigger picture. If someone demonstrates these skills to me, I will vote for that person to move him/her higher.

Notice that I had a different criterion for a neighborhood representative than I did for a higher-tier representative. That is OK. I defined my criterion for each election. Then I sought out the best person to fit that criterion. I will likely change my criterion with time and experience—and as the TDG matures.

Imagine that a local TDG has been set up in your neighborhood. You have been instructed to vote for good character and capacity for governance. Rather than just selecting the first neighbor that comes to mind, determine what constitutes your values of good character. Then determine what constitutes your values of capacity for governance. When you have established your criteria, then find which of your neighbors best exemplifies that criteria.

Just imagine hundreds, then thousands, of TDG members going through this voting process, finding the representatives at the local level. Then imagine these great people going through a similar process to find people for the intermediate tiers. What kind of representatives will we find at the higher tiers?

Published on Medium 2021

Voting for Good Character