Liberty is the ability to do what I want, when I want, without interference, in order that some good may be accomplished. Politics is the interaction with others in an attempt to influence the outcome of events. A large part of political activity takes place in local deliberative meetings where public policy is decided.
Parliamentary procedures are the practical rules of democracy. By agreeing to abide by these rules we take the risk that the political outcome that we desire may not always come to pass. But because of our love of liberty, ours and the liberty of our fellows, we are willing to take that risk.
In her book “The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure”, Alice Sturgis says,
“Parliamentary law is the procedural safeguard that protects the individual and the group in their exercise of the rights of free speech, free assembly, and the freedom to unite in organizations for the achievement of common aims. These rights, too, are meaningless, and the timeless freedoms they define can be lost, if parliamentary procedure is not observed.”
Each aspect of Robert’s Rules of order is the result of solid political reasoning, designed to ensure fairness, participation, and commitment from those in attendance. We agree to let the other person speak, listen to opinions that we may find outrageous, and to reasoning that we may consider heavily flawed. We do so because we acknowledge that every individual has a right to be heard, a right based on the intrinsic value ascribed to him or her by the living God, without whom no man or woman may claim a right to speak. In the end, our minds may be changed by what the speaker says. When we finally vote on an issue, we commit ourselves to making it happen, either by our affirmative vote, or by our respect for the association we are a part of, and of the right of the will of majority to prevail.
When a car passes by with a bumper sticker that says, “He’s not MY president”, I am angered by such treason. No matter who is elected President of the United States in November, he will be my President. I will serve and support him as far as I am able as long as he upholds and protects the Constitution of the United States, for he will have won the majority in the Electoral College, and I support the will of the majority in our democratic republic. Yet, while there is still time, let us stand and make our voice heard for liberty, let us debate, participate according to rules of order, revel in the fact that we have a right and a process by which we may strive for our principles, for liberty to win the day.
The object of the Jacksonville Parliamentarians is to promote liberty, the study of parliamentary procedure, and its proper use in local deliberative bodies dedicated to the development of political and public policy. Our organization is non-partisan in nature although we seek and expect lively political debate in an atmosphere of friendly cooperation. We desire to teach others, young people in particular, the process of making political decisions, policy, and most of all progress toward the good in a democratic society through the application of Roberts Rules of Order. Certification as a registered parliamentarian is available through our affiliation with the National Association of Parliamentarians.
The association meets regularly, and the next meeting will be on Saturday, July 5, 2008, 10:00am at the University Park Branch of the Duval County Public Library 3435 University Blvd N, Jacksonville, FL 32277. I cordially invite you to participate.
Louis William Rose
Chairman, Jacksonville Parliamentarians