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Together Everyone Achieves More

In response to grievances voiced by a couple of chapters concerning how business is conducted for ABATE of South Carolina, I present the following thoughts.

I suggest it is foolish for any person regardless of position in our organization to believe that a divided organization is stronger than a united organization. Therefore, our priority is commitment to guard our unity above all other issues. Quitting, dividing, leaving, shunning, alienating, etc., need not be our first thoughts when things upset us. We simply must stay united to be of maximum effectiveness.

Accomplishing this means that none of us will always get our way or agree on everything. I suggest we step back from the heat of our arguments long enough to detach ourselves from the personalities of the players so that we ensure we are acting on sound principles rather than personal emotionalism.

ABATE of South Carolina is organized as a representative form of governance. In a perfect world, no representatives of members would be required because each individual member would have a vote. While that might sound very democratic, democracy is mob rule and contrary to a constitutional republic. Our forefathers and other wise men have warned us of the dangers of democracies.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" - Benjamin Franklin

"Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic." - Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." - John Adams

In a constitutional republic the people hold their representatives accountable. Currently, we have a debate regarding whether members of a couple chapters are being denied a vote per se in our organization' s operational activities. The short answer is that those members have chapter coordinators and an area coordinator that has the same voting power as any other area coordinator. Therefore no member of ABATE of South Carolina is being denied a vote on any issue as long as they have an area coordinator who votes on behalf of the will of the chapter coordinators and ultimately the individual members.

It is my opinion that what we are actually debating is not the voting power but the voting outcomes. For instance, these chapters have raised concerns regarding how the decision to move monies allotted for billboard advertising to bumper stickers, was achieved. This is their right and duty, particularly when money is being spent or redirected. Collectively, nobody is debating the effectiveness of the bumper sticker project. In fact, it appears unanimous that our membership greatly appreciated the project. The concern is how approval for the project was reached.

Let' s look at this project from a democratic voting structure. Let' s say that the idea of bumper stickers came about at a chapter meeting. The chapter coordinator, based on the vote of his membership, presents the idea to the area coordinator. Then the area coordinator reports to the other chapters in his area. They all vote on it, but not really. Actually what we have is a vote of the membership that on the particular day the chapter held their vote, happened to be at that meeting. This is not a full membership vote, is it?

Let' s assume that all chapters in the area produce favorable votes for bumper stickers. Now what? How do we have our entire state membership vote on this project?

First, the area coordinator will need to present his area's idea to the other area coordinators. Then the other area coordinators send the idea back to the chapters for a vote, much in the way that we gain insight regarding the direction the membership wants us to move. We'll assume the chapters from across the state all support the bumper sticker project. Now what?

In a constitutional republic, the area coordinators would then vote on the issue, but in a democracy, they would be forbidden. In a democracy, what would need to occur is a statewide election that was conducted in a fashion that ensured that every single member be given amble notice of the election and how to cast their vote. To suggest that our organization can define the will of our membership by those who only attend chapter meetings is close-minded. There are as many different reasons as there are members as to why some members cannot participate regularly at the chapter level. To randomly dismiss their right to vote is discriminatory, if not corrupt.

So how will we notify our entire membership, our dues paying members, of the bumper sticker project and the upcoming vote? Should we do it via e-mail? That cannot work because some of our members do not use e-mail or computers. Should we do it via the United States Postal Service? I guest we could, but the cost associated with this sort of notification in some instances could actually surpass that amount of money we are trying to spend. In that instance, we would need a separate vote on spending the money for paper ballots and postage to learn if we can spend the money on bumper stickers.

So how can we do that? We cannot. There would be no way possible to fairly get our entire membership to vote on any issue without first spending money without permission of the entire membership. The only way to do this would be to discriminate against our members who cannot attend a chapter meeting when a vote is cast. Some of our members that would like our organization to be a democracy discount the non-attending member as somehow less important then the member who is able to attend chapter meetings on a regular basis. Yet they insist that what they seek is an opportunity for individual members to cast individual votes on most every issue or decision ABATE of South Carolina makes. Is it possible to have it both ways? I do not see how.

As the state coordinator, the most important function I have today is to bring unity and maintain it. However, that does not mean that I will be able to keep everybody happy. I agree that we need to improve communications and information flow. We are not unique in that regard. Any entity of our size struggles with these sorts of problems. I also understand that on occasion it appears that at the state level, decisions are being made without verification of full support of our membership.

I argue that if you are personally opposed to the decision or you are personally opposed to me, then you are more inclined to find fault and create friction. For the record, I react much the same way when things don' t go my way, so don' t read too much into that statement. We are all guilty of placing personalities before principles from time to time.

As an organization that is meant to defend biker rights and renounce totalitarian proposals and enactments, I ask every member who is feeling raw right now to please take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at us. We may have the fight of our lives this year. This just may be the year when our lawmakers attempt to undue the work of our organization 25 years ago. Do any of you really believe we can stop them if we are divided?

I suggest we perfect our current structure, rather than reinvent it. We need to maintain our deep-rooted convictions, yet remain quick on our feet. We need the ability to move fast and furiously against those who want to interfere with our liberty. We do our organization a great disservice if we remove our ability to take care of business expeditiously. It is not personal. It is business, and we are all in the business of defending liberty and freedom. It is time to get to work .

FastFred Ruddock
ABATE of SC State Coordinator

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