Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Usual and Customary Politics

I and I am sure everyone else was glad that the National Board of Directors and the elusive -  membership unknown - and double-secret OGH Nominations Committee saw fit to suspend the rules unilaterally established by a previous NBD and present Brother Archie Yeatts with the much deserved Order of the Golden Heart at the end of his term as Grand President. Probably few undergraduates really do appreciate the years and years of service Brother Yeatts provided to the Fraternity prior to his tenure on the NBD and subsequent election to GP. Congratulations, Archie, and let's hope that such silly rules established by a scorned board member(s) don't repeat themselves in the future.

So, now that I have your attention, perhaps a little history lesson and one clear resounding example will give you a peek behind the curtain of mystery in our Fraternity's body politic.

As far back as I can remember (over 15 Conclaves), it was always customary to present the outgoing Grand President the Order of the Golden Heart Award (if he didn’t already have one). It is much deserved as anyone who has diligently served a term or two on the National Board and then a two year run as Grand President has devoted a considerable amount of concentrated volunteer time to the Fraternity. That is up until the 1989 Conclave when a dark horse candidate trumped the heir-apparent in his campaign for Grand President. This, of course, sent shock waves through the "good ole boy" politics much more than most will admit. Once the "dark horse's" reign was completed in 1991, there was retribution to be delivered. The first move was to enact an emergency resolution to immediately go into effect with the 1991 Conclave that the Grand President would no longer be given the OGH at the end of his term. It then became “tradition” that the Past GP would receive his OGH at the next Conclave. In 2005, this was suspended for appropriate reason and, in this writer's opinion, was appropriate again in 2007. However, retribution continued for our 1989 Dark Horse GP who should have, according to the new rule, received his in 1993 .... He did not receive his OGH in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, but finally did in 2001. Guess it would have looked bad for the Fraternity if a living Past Grand President didn't have an OGH by the Centennial. 

It is interesting to also note the Heir Apparent that the Dark Horse upset was closely tied to the OGH Nomination Committee (while the constitution of this committee is possibly the best kept secret in the Fraternity, this author knows for an absolute fact, that the Heir Apparent served and may still be serving on the OGH Nomination Committee).

This author feels very strongly that we should go back to the earlier precedent of giving the outgoing GP his OGH. It just makes sense.

The other lesson here is that when you begin to upset the body politic there are penalties to be paid. It would be interesting to see what other clandestine, double-secret activities might be discovered if one lifts the curtain higher and lets the light of day in. Does the old boy politics still extend to alumni nominations process? That will be an insider story in the next installment of Usual and Customary.

Great indeed is the mystery of the Fraternity (politics, that is).