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The Politics of Points of Order

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 2/27/2014, midnight

As more and more of the Black Arts generation abruptly slips into the grave, the issue of the readiness of the Millennials for the next generation of leadership forces itself forward. They will face taxing and exhausting problems over water rights, land and sovereignty rights, law of the sea issues, the continuation of the outright stupid Cuban blockade, Pan African unification and ending the too numerous petty wars over petty egotisms, the end game on reparations, nationally and internationally, and more. Ninety percent or more of what they will face will not be able to be solved by dropping another bomb or sending in more troops or drones. The Millennial leadership will have to be able to think, to mediate, and to apply diplomacy and critical analysis skills to the issues of their day. Such skills won’t come easy, and they won’t be self-evident. They must be crafted and practiced again and again.

That’s why it was a beautiful experience watching a group of Pan African Studies (PAS) students from California State University, Northridge engage, debate and collaborate with Model UN students from the same campus, and from College of the Canyons. Using the rules of parliamentary procedure (aka, Robert’s Rules of Order) to good effect in trying to craft viable simulated decisions to resolve the South Sudanese civil war, and the continuing tensions and public violence in the Central African Republic, these students demonstrated their own appreciation of the leadership talent they needed for the coming problems of the world. The PAS students handled themselves well, one even winning a best delegate award.

A few days later, 10 of these PAS students traveled to Washington, D.C. and continued their intrepid engagements by participating fully in the Model African Union simulation that happens annually at Howard University. There they interacted with upwards of 500 other students in teams from Michigan State, Colgate, University of Maryland, Savannah State, University of Southern Georgia, University of Akron, and other schools. Keynoted and encouraged by the African Union Ambassador to the U.S., the Honorable Madame Amina Ali, the students debated resolutions and creative ideas on a Technical Committee on Economic Matters, a Technical Committee on Social Matters, an Executive Council, a Committee on Democracy, Governance and Human Rights, a Committee on Peace and Security, and a Committee on Regional Economic Communities. The best resolutions passed there are slated to be sent to the real African Union by the Model A.U.’s organizers, including Dr. Michael Nwanze, professor of political science at Howard, who founded the model more than twelve years ago.

Being proficient in parliamentary procedure is, unfortunately, not a current skill in great abundance within the African American community, but these young charges are working hard at it. In the past, the White student-based teams participating in the model usually outfoxed and outwitted many of the African American participants in that skill. Currently, however, the African American students, including those from Northridge, are more than holding their own. They can and did handle the Order of Motions instrument very well.

If this set of interactions were taken as a harbinger of great things to come in our immediate future leadership, we could all celebrate and issue a sigh of relief. It may be ephemeral, however. There are not enough of these type practices going on and instead, we are still just growing leaders who have little taste for civic morality and responsibility. Haven’t we had enough of crooked politicians who embarrass us and themselves by being charged and convicted of some malfeasance in office?

What we need is to train and prepare our future leaders better, and not just accept what shows up at our political door. We need more future leadership training, folks. If you have an opportunity to push forward any program as described above, please do so. We cannot leave our collective political futures in the hands of incompetents and the ill-prepared. ‘Nuff said.