About the Author

About the Author

Alex Sparrow is the writer and editor of Democracy in Principle. I come from an academic background in history and philosophy. I have a Master’s degree in philosophy, and five years experience teaching logic and reasoning. My fondest hope is to see democracy flourish, in my country and around the world.

Please contact me at democracyinprinciple@gmail.com


One comment

  • Mary Kehaulani Dias
    March 18, 2012 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Unanimous Consent and the Local Hawaiian Culture by Mary Kehaulani Dias 03/18/12
    Mr. Alex Sparrow, I appreciated reading your post, “Consensus and Majority Rule.” It was on a subject that is very important to me right now. As a member of a non-profit housing cooperative in Hawaii it was upsetting when Management hired a professional Parliamentarian who presided over our Annual Membership Meeting and changed the voting style from Majority Rules to Unanimous Consent.
    Unanimous Consent is not conducive to a Culturally passive population of [local] people who were strictly raised to show respect and not interrupt someone who is speaking, especially someone in authority. With Unanimous Consent, unless there is an objection, the matter at hand passes. Unfortunately, objections must usually be made while a person is speaking so with this group, no objections are made.
    The (non-local) Parliamentarian did not explain what Unanimous Consent was and he ramrodded through business so fast that many members, especially the elderly, could not keep up. Therefore, changes were made to some policies, including the voting method and relinquishing some power over to the Board of Directors without the members being aware of it. Later when what had been done was discovered, it was too late. The matters had passed because no one had objected at the time.
    One Member had found an error in the Annual Financial Report earlier in the meeting but politely waited until New Business near the end of the meeting to bring it up when the Parliamentarian finally stopped talking.
    Was the hiring of a Parliamentarian to preside over the meetings in such a fashion a ploy by Management to gain more power? Probably. The sad thing is that the only time most of the Co-op Members have a chance to play an active role in our community is when they attend the Annual Membership Meeting and cast their [individual] vote to approve the minutes of last year’s meeting. That no longer happens thanks to Unanimous Consent.
    So while Unanimous Consent might work well in small group meetings, it does not do justice to a large body culturally polite, non-aggressive people and it certainly eliminates participation in a Democratic process that the Majority Rule provides. Mahalo.