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Constituency model difficulties

From: Susan Lee
Date: Sat Nov 9, 2002 8:47 am
Subject: Constituency model difficulties

I also would like clarification of "White" people voting for "Black" candidates in the Constituency Model, because I was telling people that you could register for any other catergory except for staff and geographic area where you don't live.

The Qualifications for the candidates are restricted to members only of the "labelled" constituency group. I think ! :-)


Mike Beasley

If a non-woman cannot vote for the woman's slot, who is going to check? On what grounds is someone going to say that someone is not a woman, an African-American, a Latino, an Arab, a whatever. What counts? Does someone have to be 100% Native American? 75%? 50%? 25%? 12 1/2%? How do you prove it? Who is going to write the ground rules? who is going to enforce them? What if one poll taker finds this silliness or worse, anti-democratic and doesn't enforce them? Will that invalidate all the votes that poll taker accepts? Who decides? When? Do the votes get to vote again? If so, why? If not, why not? Who is going to check the checkers? Does anyone who has experienced Pacifica believe that any station (let alone New York) is up to this level of organization?

If anyone (but staff) can vote in any category, then doesn't this undercut the major thesis of the constituency model that more important than one-person-one-vote, than any distortion that these voting patterns will entail, and than any necessity for loyalty or manifested interest in Pacificais is that each minority group gets to name their own representatives? Why are 100 non-Arabs who may choose to vote for an Arab seat and perhaps in fact choose an Arab seat better than the Arab community backing an Arab candidate in the KPFA model, voting for that candidate and standing a good chance of actually winning a seat for their candidate?

Susan Lee [ WBAI programmer ]


From: paul_surovell
Date: Sun Nov 10, 2002 8:23 am
Subject: Joe Kaye's rhetoric vs reality

In post #2723, Joe Kaye said the following:

- - - - - - - - -
"Diversity requirements cannot substitute for genuine community empowerment. The road to unity does not lie through thwarting community self- determination but by embracing it. Fear of self- determination stokes suspicion and resentment and therefore disunity.

"We hear talk about "group interest" being counterposed to the universal Pacifica mission. If Black liberation is antithetical to the Pacifica mission, if independence for Puerto Rico, gay liberation, the recognition of the full humanity of the prisoner population, full rights for immigrants, etc., etc., if these "group interests" are antithetical to the Pacifica mission, then we had better change that mission. The truth is not only are they not antithetical, they are concrete embodiments of the Pacifica mission, they are what make the Pacifica mission meaningful! It is time to end the fear mongering concerning giving expression to the legiitimate aspirations of the oppressed, the exploited and the marginalized!"
- - - - - - - - -

These are principles that are embraced by virtually everyone in the Pacifica movement. But Joe's purpose is not to applaud Pacifica activists for their support of these noble principles.

On the contrary, Joe's purpose is to claim anyone who opposes the Unity Caucus constituency model is opposed to these principles of community empowerment and community self-determination.

The simple answer is that the Unity Caucus model does not advance the causes of community empowerment or community self-determination.

I will repeat this -- and I suggest we repeat this phrase whenever UC spokesman attempt to verbally intimidate us by suggesting that we are opposed to community empowerment or community self-determination:

*** The Unity Caucus model does NOT advance the causes of community empowerment or community self-determination ***

In fact the UC model TRIVIALIZES the concepts of community empowerment and community self-determination.

Several facts and examples will demonstrate this.

(1)The Unity Caucus standard for a constituency election is a total of 50 ballots cast. This means, for example if there were three candidates, that 18 votes for one candidate and 16 votes for the other two candidates would be sufficient to award the seat.

So we see that the rhetoric of self-empowerment and self- determination is reduced to 18 self-identified members of the community.

And of course if there were more than three candidates the seat could be awarded with fewer than 18 votes.

(2) The Unity Caucus model is an invitation for fraud and hostile takeover. A well financed conservative group could easily organize the registration and voting of several hundred people -- who could register as "self-identified" members of the constituency -- and nominate and vote for the designated candidate.

In the Youth Constituency for instance, a right-wing Christian fundamentalist group like the Unification Church (Moonies) or whoever their successor is, could mobilize hundreds of their young followers to register, nominate and dominate the election.

(3) The UC model calls for realization of the 50% diversity requirements (people of color and women) through an adjustment from candidates in the At-Large category. Since there are only 6 seats designated for people of color (I previously said 7 but have since realized that the Arab/Muslim seat is not a people of color seat) that means that potentially 9 would have to be realized from the At- Large category.

So there is not even a pretense that "self-determination" is the means for electing 9 of the 15 seats for communities of color.

(4) The UC requirement to register in 2 constituencies creates a situation where many members of constituencies cannot vote in their constituency because they have registered elsewhere -- for various reasons. So the people voting in the constituencies cannot even be said to necessarily represent the constituency members of the limited voting pool that will be participating in the election.


Joe has suggested that critics of the UC model have counterposed the notion of "group interest" with the Pacifica mission. This is a canard, a straw man. Nothing of the sort has been suggested.

What has been said is that the UC model gives IDENTITY more importance than commitment to the mission. Because the UC would give people the right on the basis of their IDENTITY not on the basis of having demonstrated support for the mission.

That is apolitical, and in fact, I would suggest, reactionary, to bestow voting rights for the future of Pacifica to people merely because they have self-identified in a category.


I agree with Joe that it is time to end the fear-mongering and the rhetoric of intimidation. And to that end, I suggest that we all agree that while there may be racial or ethnic tensions that exist within the Pacifica family, that at the same time Pacifica is a place where people are striving to overcome those tensions.

Our movement has always functioned as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, totally diverse body. We need to uphold this and honor this at every level, including the level of elections to the local board.

We do not need to separate in our organizations and we do not need to separate in our elections. We need to join as one on the basis of our ageement on those issues that make up the Pacifica mission, including self-empowerment and self-determination of communities, so we can help to assure that Pacifica and WBAI support and promote those issues in its programming to the greatest extent possible.

Paul Surovell

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