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[rpd] Fwd: Board Composition

Fiona Asonga tespok at
Wed May 4 08:12:49 UTC 2016

Hallo All

It is good that we are having this discussion prior to the meeting however, why isn't this discussion being taken to the members discussion list. Some of the members are missing out on the discussion? 

Kind regards


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Owen DeLong" <owen at>
To: "Andrew Alston" <Andrew.Alston at>
Cc: "rpd" <rpd at>
Sent: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 8:15:58 PM
Subject: Re: [rpd] Board Composition

This is long. I apologize. For those who don’t care to get into the digression of American politics while I attempt
to educate Andrew, here is a TL;DR version that summarizes the relevant points:

Trump isn’t carrying a majority in most places, just a plurality.
The dynamics of plurality vs. majority are important to consider.
I’m not opposed to Mike’s candidacy or his election.
However, his nomination does bring to light a structural issue that I think the community should at least consider.
I do not advocate any change relevant to this election.
I am not opposing the election of Mike Silber to the AfriNIC board.

Everything below this expands on the above points and provides additional insight into just how screwed up american politics are for those who may be interested in our on-going circus.

> On May 3, 2016, at 09:34 , Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at> wrote:
> Owen,
> Allow me to take a slightly different view on this, and allow me to look at your own country and its democratic system for guidance.
> Let us for a moment stop, and consider that Donald trump is quite likely to be the GOP nominee, and, he might even win the election.  This is despite everything he has said and everything that he has done.  Now, many would consider this bad for the USA, bad for immigrants, bad for reputation, bad for many many reasons.  But, here is the thing, if he gets elected, it is because the people across the states, be they conservative or democrat, caucasian or hispanic, rural or urban, together voted and the tally would have been counted. This is irrespective of who is a minority, who is a majority, or any other factor.  It is pure overall majority vote.  

Actually, you are not correct in this. One of the great travesties in the united States of America is that no part of the presidential election is truly under the control of the people.

Let me explain (bear with, as this is byzantine and makes little sense from the perspective of a supposed democracy):

1. Primaries
	Primaries are where people pretend to vote for a candidate to be their party’s nominee. What they are
	actually voting for (in most cases), is which candidate gets to pick the delegates who go to the convention
	to vote for the nominee. To make matters worse, each party gets to set their own rules about how the
	convention proceeds, how the delegates are required to vote (if there are any requirements at all), etc.

	The people have NO control other than picking the candidate that gets to pick the delegates. The candidates
	can’t even actually control how the delegates vote.

2. The General election
	In the general election (November), the people in each state vote for which party gets to pick how many of the
	electors who will vote for the president. Note that once again, the people aren’t actually voting for the president,
	they are voting for which party gets to pick the electors. In this case, the candidates themselves don’t even get
	to pick the electors, the party that nominated them will pick them. To further prevent things from being in any
	way actually representative, most states operate on a winner-take-all basis so that if A gets 35% of the vote,
	and B, C, and D get 34, 15, and 12% of the vote, respectively, all of the electors from that state will be
	chosen by party A.

	These electors then vote for the actual president. More than once, America has managed to elect a president who
	did not win the popular vote.

	More information here:

So, no, I do not believe for one second that if Donald Trump wins, it will be because of a majority of Americans supporting him.

In fact, if it comes down to Donald vs. Hillary (most likely), the only way Donald wins is if Bernie runs as an independent or if the Bernie Sanders supporters don’t vote for Hillary (whether by simply staying home, or, by some futile write-in campaign or some other “protest vote”).

If the majority of Americans actually vote, Trump simply cannot carry the election.

> Now, let us look at at AfriNIC when we look at our board and those that sit on it.  Each board member is elected by the community, as a whole, and the votes are tallied and those that the majority feel should have their seats, take up their seats and do their best to serve the organisation.  Board members at that point do not represent  region, they do not represent their employers, they have fiduciary duties that are aligned only to the good of AfriNIC as an organisation.  I really honestly feel that if people want another candidate, let their voices be heard at the ballot and let them vote.  If the majority votes in a particular way however, there is no way that anyone who did NOT partake in the vote can cry about it, and those who DID vote need to accept the majority vote. 

You keep using this term majority in a way that is not accurate. The word you are actually looking for is “plurality” and there are all kinds of dynamics involved in pluralities that are quite different from majority.

Indeed, this is the biggest shortcoming of this type of “first past the post” electoral system. You almost always end up with candidates elected by a plurality who may or may not actually be supported by a majority.

Yes, board members have a duty to represent the community, but you and I both know that they cannot possibly approach their duties devoid of any bias or influence from their employer. I’m not talking about bribes, control, undue influence, or anything like that. I’m not talking about anything shady, immoral, or illegal. I’m simply talking about human nature. Our views, our perspectives, our thoughts are all shaped by our surroundings. There’s no way for me to approach a problem with the same perspective as someone from one of Akamai’s competitors because I do not have that perspective. I can only approach the problem from my own perspective because that is the only perspective which I actually have. I can try to understand other perspectives and I can try to incorporate what I know about other perspectives, but even then, they are merged with my own perspective and I cannot completely separate them. This is a limitation of the way our minds are constructed. It is an inherent reality of human cognition.

> When we start introducing demographics and language and discussions like these, we are not actually working in the interests of a united AfriNIC, instead we are diving it by highlighting our differences rather than our common cause.  Just as in the states, part of the pledge of allegiance says “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Freedom for All”, perhaps it is time we as a community took a similar approach, "one continent, under one board, elected by all”.

It is not my intent to divide AfriNIC and I think you know that. I am not even calling for a change to the rules for this election, nor am I opposing Mike’s candidacy. I am merely suggesting that the community consider the potential in the existing rules for the possibility of organizational capture and decide whether that is worth addressing or not.

Your reference to the pledge of allegiance is also slightly erroneous here. First, it says “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All”. The word Freedom does not appear in the pledge of allegiance. Further, there are many, myself included, that take issue with the inclusion of the words “Under God” as we believe that they violate the first amendment. You cannot claim to have freedom of religion unless you also recognize that no religion is a perfectly valid choice that must be honored. Further, not all religions have the concept of a “God”, nor do all religions consider their God(s) to be above them. As such, that phrase is fundamentally incompatible with the very flag and republic to which the pledge is supposedly giving allegiance.

The current fractured and partisan nature of American politics seems to me to put the concept of “indivisible” somewhat to the test as well.

Finally, while the pledge provides for a reasonable set of goals, I think that as a nation, we are far short of those goals. Perhaps in some ways farther from them than in even our recent (pre-2001) past.

Certainly we have less liberty and less justice than in years past. Things like the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism act (aka U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act) have seen to that.

Trump is not a candidate supported by even a plurality of Americans. He is simply a reaction to the failings of the people in power for the last 12 years. He is perceived as an outsider and so is attracting a strong showing among frustrated republicans. Also to no small measure, his success in the Republican primaries is largely a case of “In a world of blind people, the one-eyed man is king."

> Unless of course you advocate for a contested convention where the majority vote means little?

The only place where the majority vote means less than a contested convention is an uncontested one.

> Andrew
> On 03/05/2016, 6:36 PM, "Owen DeLong" <owen at> wrote:
>> It has come to my attention that Mike Silber is running for the independent seat that is opening on the AfriNIC board in the next election.
>> While I consider Mike to be an excellent candidate and believe he would be a true asset to the AfriNIC board, I have a concern that I must express. This concern has nothing to do with Mike himself, but rather is a concern about organizational structure.
>> There are only 8 elected members of the AfriNIC board. If Mike Silber is elected, then 25% of the elected board seats would be held by employees of Liquid Telecom. Personally, I do not feel that the board can properly represent the diversity of the AfriNIC community if we allow multiple board seats to be held by representatives from the same organization. While I do not believe that Liquid has any sort of goal of organizational capture or any nefarious intent whatsoever, the reality is that if this is allowed, then it does create the possibility for some other organization to achieve a form of organizational capture.
>> The board has tremendous authority and responsibility within the AfriNIC organization. As such, I think it is important to consider these generic structural issues seriously, no matter how much we may like and admire the candidates in question.
>> Again, this is not personal. If it were, I’d be endorsing Mike rather than calling his candidacy into question. However, from a structural perspective, I think it is important that the community at least consider the issue.
>> Owen
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