Friday, July 17, 2009
My argument for a Single Candidate Search Process
The proposal now floating around for reforming the UUA Presidential election process is for a Presidential Search Committee to put forward, after deliberation, at least two candidates for the UUA Presidency. Then the campaign begins.
I argue for a single candidate, chosen by the Search committee.
Why is one better than two?
1. The problem in the process is that campaign -- time and expense. Having two official nominees does not solve that problem. That problem will be solved to some extent by online and electronic communication.
2. The necessities of the campaign itself limits who can run. Prospects must be in a place in their career that they can devote that amount of time and energy. Others have identified who is in that pool: ministers in multi-staff churches, national staff, the retired and the independently wealthy. A more subtle inhibitor is also at work: the risk. A candidate in a multi-staff church, the national staff person essentially risks their present position for the Presidency. You can't always go back to your old job if you lose.
3. Two candidate races create and exaggerate polarities. Growth vs. Depth, for example. As if, those two are somehow in contradiction to each other. It's unfortunate when two self-selected candidates and their supporters draw these kind of contrasts, but a Presidential Search Committee who has to choose two candidates will be consciously shaping these contradictions, giving them life. I am troubled by this. I don't want the Presidential Search Committee to decide what the most important unresolved issues are; I would rather they choose the best person, on balance, for the job.