In various ways, the question of representation is present in our culture and in our conversations at General Conference this year.
In the midst of a contentious election season, the election of delegates to conventions represent the votes of the people often means a skewing of the actual vote tallies. For example: Mr. Donald Trump has only won 37% of the popular vote, but 45% of the overall delegate count. (http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/despite-complaints-delegate-system-has-given-trump-22-percent-bonus-n553801).
I’m not an expert on party politics. I know the Democrats have super delegates that change the dynamics, and I’m not as familiar with the Republican allocation of delegates. Until Tuesday, many were counting on the delegate process to be a positive factor in the “Never Trump” contingent.
And yet, when we get to November, we will find ourselves again reminded that we are not a true democracy where every person has a vote. We are a representative democracy. We have a system (the Electoral College and our division of Congress) that protects the voices and interests of all by using both proportional (House of Representatives) and equal (Senate) representation.
Is it perfect? Probably not.
Is it equal? Nope.
But that’s actually the point.
I’m reminded of the graphic that shows the difference between equality and equity/justice.
So, as we approach General Conference, I’m thinking about how to vote on legislation that proposes changes to our own delegate counts.
In a sense, we have tried to strike the same balance as the “Great Compromise” did in the US Congress. There are a minimum of delegates granted to every conference, no matter how small. The rest are divided proportionately. And that means our system shares the same kind of distribution inequality as the electoral college (according to # of people per delegate).
But that’s the point.
Our equitable system tries to protect the voice of our smaller regions. It tries to prevent the domination of the larger regions in our polity so that we can truly be a global church and hear from our neighbors far and wide. But it also creates room for proportionality so that we aren’t disenfranchising the voices of people either.
Maybe it’s a pretty good compromise.