Don’t be a passhole, go vote in the AFSA Elections

Ballot bokehImage by iceman9294 via FlickrA passhole is “someone who opts out of participating in a decision, but then complains bitterly about the outcome.”

Don’t be one. Elections have consequences. Go vote in the AFSA elections. 

The ballots were mailed to all constituencies on April 1, 2011. Some important dates to remember.

# June 2, 2011 Ballots counted
# June 6, 2011 Elections Committee declares results
# July 15, 2011 New board takes office

I have written many times previously about the contentious AFSA elections in 2009. I have not always agreed with AFSA, and the previous election had left a sour taste in the mouth of many. That said, I also think that Foreign Service folks would be in a real bad shape without an active, forceful and effective advocate.  

In the aftermath of the 2009 elections, I blogged about the details behind the numbers and found the following:

Active-duty State employees are the largest voting bloc in AFSA at 63.3% of the total membership. In this election, State employees account for 1,459 of the total votes or 43% of the votes counted. However, 1,459 votes out of approximately 8,801 due-paying members amount to only 16.57% of this constituency. In short – only slightly more than 15% of active-duty State AFSA members sent in their votes.

Retirees are the second largest constituents of AFSA at 26.4% of the total membership. In this election, AFSA retirees account for 1,568 of the total votes or 47% of the votes counted. However, 1,568 retiree votes out of approximately 3,670 dues-paying retiree members amount to 42% of this constituency. In short – almost half the total AFSA retiree members sent in their votes.

This is not to say that the retirees should not have a voice in the direction of the organization.  But the active members of the Foreign Service, as the largest voting bloc and as the folks who have been repeatedly deployed to warzones, hardship/unaccompanied and dangerous assignments in the last decade, and who will continue to deploy to increasingly challenging assignments in the years ahead — they need to have their voices heard, in shall we say, more appropriate collective tone of voice.

And– they won’t have their voices heard unless you, the active members, participate in greater number in the process of picking your own representatives.

The Foreign Service has changed in so many ways in the last decade alone. I think candidates who are on active duty, who have served in warzones or hardship assignments, who have specialized skills in management, human resources, and other functional skills, those who have professional spouses navigating unemployment overseas — those with compelling and recent experiences from the trenches can only add to better representation of the rank and file of the service.

And, of course, being a self identified political junkie often disgusted with the darker side of politics, I’ve always thought that term limits are good for the soul. There ought to be term limits for the officers of AFSA; whether that’s two terms or three terms, the membership should decide on that. US presidents have it, why not members of the Governing Board?  Besides, with all the talented members of the Foreign Service, identifying good candidates shouldn’t be too hard, should it? 

Finally, growing the next crop of leaders from the relatively newer members of the organization ought to be one of its priorities. AFSA needs to grow the next generation of leaders needed to negotiate with management on issues affecting the changing Foreign Service.   

So don’t be a passhole. Go vote in the AFSA elections.  

Related links:

21st Century AFSA |
AFSA Strong |
Candidate Statements |

Related posts:

AFSA Election 2011: This Looks Like A Slam Dunk | Diplopundit | Mar 21, 2011

AFSA: Why Some Game Changers Are Needed Sooner Not Later |Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Drilling Down the 2009 AFSA Election Results | Jun 17, 2009