First Steps – CariCom: One-Man-One-Vote Defects

Go Lean Commentary

Despite all the legal jargon, the concept of precedence* simply means that someone else has already dealt with an issue.

Think of big issues:

There is no need to open a new debate on these; there is already a well-documented, well-established precedence. Wrong is wrong!

There is need to re-establish precedence once again, in terms of government representation.

There is also a proposed new regime for the 30 member-states that constitute the Caribbean; 15 of these member are Full Members of the Caribbean Community (CariCom). While 5 states are Associate Members and 9 are Observers. The CariCom construct is therefore the best starting point for any regional integration.

This is the best First Step

… but there is a defect with this structure in terms of government representation, CariCom is structured for One-Man/State-One-Vote. In the past such a structure has been found wanting! We need to learn from those experiences, discussions, debates, disagreements and resolutions; we need to consider the precedence. This precedent consideration comes from the early days of the United States of America.

After the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and until the enactment of the Constitution in 1789, there was a temporary period of 13 years under the Articles of Confederacy. During that structure, each state (former colony) was afforded 1 vote in Congress. So the BIG state of Virginia yielded the same political power as the small state of Delaware. This was a defect! The correction came with the adoption of the Connecticut Compromise into the Constitution; this called for the adoption of a bicameral legislature (2 chambers): Upper House & Lower House. See the full details in the Appendix Reference below.

There are lessons from this precedence for the Caribbean to learn and apply today. There are BIG population states – think Cuba or Haiti with more that 10 million people – and small member-states, think St Barthélemy, St Kitts and St Martin, all with less than 45,000 people. There is no way that all 30 member states can be expected to wield the same political power with One-Man-One-Vote suffrage. This is a clear-and-present defect!

This commentary is Part 4 of a 6-part series from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean in consideration of the First Steps for instituting a new regime in governance for the Caribbean homeland. The other commentaries in the series are cataloged as follows:

  1. First Steps: EU – Free European Money – To Start at Top
  2. First Steps: UK – Dignified and Efficient
  3. First Steps: US – Congressional Interstate Compacts – No Vote; No Voice 
  4. First Steps: CariCom – One-Man-One-Vote Defects
  5. First Steps: Deputize ‘Me’! 
  6. First Steps: A Powerful C.P.U.

All of these commentaries relate to “how” the Caribbean can finally get started with adapting the organizational structures to optimize the region’s societal engines. The Caribbean has the 30 member-states, 4 languages and 5 different colonial legacies; there are many different systems of governance. Any consideration for leadership in the region must weigh the different schemes in the balance and choose an optimal structure. Forging change involves starting from the Top (leaders) and starting from the Bottom (citizens) to assimilate Caribbean society. This is how to make the region better places to live, work and play.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all 30 member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy and create new jobs; (planning 2.2 million).
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions for a Way Forward, a guide on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society. One implementation of the roadmap is the CU Legislature, with a design to neutralize the defects of a suffrage scheme. See this point here from the book Page 91:

The CU Legislative Branch represents the Caribbean Parliament; it is divided between two chambers: Upper House (Senate) and Lower House (House of Assembly). Despite their title, both houses have equal power.

Why is there the need for 2 houses? Simple; this mitigates the reasons for failure from previous Caribbean integration efforts. The West Indies Federation of 1958 – 1962 was criticized for imbalanced representation: the larger states had just as much representation in the Federation as the smaller state. For the CU, size does matter. But minority rights must be protected as well. The Senate allows for a 1-man-1-vote structure (actually 2 seats per state), while the House is represented proportionally by population. This model follows the best practices of many other successful democracies.

There will undoubtedly be differences in legislation originated from both chambers. So the constitution should allow for differences to be settled in a Compromise Conference; then the final law re-validated by the respective chambers.

In addition, there is the advocacy in the book (Page 135) entitled “10 Lessons Learned from the West Indies Federation“, where it details the many defects of the before-CariCom regional construct. Yes, the Caribbean has its own precedence to consider … and learn from. See this chart here of the bicameral distribution:

Forging change in the Caribbean territories means starting at the Top (leaders) and starting at the Bottom (citizens). But there must be an equitable distribution among the leaders from the member-state – size does matter.

The Action Plan in this new Caribbean regime, the Way Forward, is that Caribbean people would determine the Caribbean destiny. See how this governance theme has been detailed in other blog-commentaries over the years; see sample here: New Caribbean Regime: Assembling the Region’s Organizations Past Failures for Caribbean Governing Integration Funding Caribbean Risk Not Satisfied with Representation? Then Consider Secession! Integration Plan for Greater Caribbean Prosperity Lessons from China – Size Does Matter A Lesson in Economic Fallacies – Independence: Hype or Hope Model of Scottish Independence Pursuit – Self-Determination

The current regional construct – CariCom – has this suffrage defect of One-Man/State-One-Vote; this is not a design for governing efficiency or popular acceptance. The opening of the Go Lean book stressed that the plan is to avoid the defects of the Caribbean past and be better, do better:

This [Go Lean] movement is not an attempt to re-boot the CariCom, but rather a plan to re-boot the Caribbean. – Page 8

We cannot ignore the past, as it defines who we are, but we do not wish to be shackled to the past either, for then, we miss the future. So we must learn from the past, our experiences and that of other states in similar situations, mount our feet solidly to the ground and then lean-in, to reach for new heights; forward, upward and onward. – Page 3

We urge all member-states – large and small – to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap – in fact all Caribbean stakeholders should lean-in – in order to be better, here in the Caribbean, to make our homeland better places to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Footnote * – Precedent

In legal systems based on common law, a precedent, or authority, is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.


Appendix Reference – Connecticut Compromise

The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution. It retained the bicameral legislature as proposed by Roger Sherman, along with proportional representation of the states in the lower house, but required the upper house to be weighted equally between the states. Each state would have two representatives in the Upper House.

On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph of the Virginia delegation proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature. Under his proposal, membership in both houses would be allocated to each state proportional to its population; however, candidates for the lower house would be nominated and elected by the people of each state. This proposal allowed fairness and equality to the people. Candidates for the upper house would be nominated by the state legislatures of each state and then elected by the members of the lower house. This proposal was known as the Virginia Plan.

Less populous states like Delaware were afraid that such an arrangement would result in their voices and interests being drowned out by the larger states. Many delegates also felt that the Convention did not have the authority to completely scrap the Articles of Confederation,[1] as the Virginia Plan would have.[2] In response, on June 15, 1787, William Paterson of the New Jersey delegation proposed a legislature consisting of a single house. Each state was to have equal representation in this body, regardless of population. The New Jersey Plan, as it was called, would have left the Articles of Confederation in place, but would have amended them to somewhat increase Congress’s powers.[3]

At the time of the convention, the South was growing more quickly than the North, and Southern states had the most extensive Western claims. South Carolina, North Carolina, and the State of Georgia were small in the 1780s, but they expected growth, and thus favored proportional representation. New York State was one of the largest states at the time, but two of its three representatives (Alexander Hamilton being the exception) supported an equal representation per state, as part of their desire to see maximum autonomy for the states. (The two representatives other than Hamilton had left the convention before the representation issue was resolved, leaving Hamilton, and New York State, without a vote.)

James Madison and Hamilton were two of the leaders of the proportional representation group. Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty (see History of the United States Senate).

For their part, the small state representatives argued that the states were, in fact, of a legally equal status, and that proportional representation would be unfair to their states. Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened on behalf of the small states, “the small ones w[ould] find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice.”

Elbridge Gerry ridiculed the small states’ claim of sovereignty, saying “that we never were independent States, were not such now, & never could be even on the principles of the Confederation. The States & the advocates for them were intoxicated with the idea of their sovereignty.”[4]

The Compromise
On June 14, when the Convention was ready to consider the report on the Virginia plan, William Paterson of New Jersey requested an adjournment to allow certain delegations more time to prepare a substitute plan. The request was granted, and, on the next day, Paterson submitted nine resolutions embodying necessary amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which was followed by a vigorous debate. On June 19, the delegates rejected the New Jersey Plan and voted to proceed with a discussion of the Virginia Plan. The small States became increasingly discontented, and some threatened to withdraw. On July 2, the Convention was deadlocked over giving each State an equal vote in the upper house, with five States in the affirmative, five in the negative, and one divided.

The problem was referred to a committee consisting of one delegate from each State to reach a compromise. On July 5, the committee submitted its report, which became the basis for the “Great Compromise” of the Convention. The report recommended that in the upper house each State should have an equal vote and in the lower house, each State should have one representative for every 40,000 inhabitants,[5] counting slaves as three-fifths of an inhabitant,[5] and that money bills should originate in the lower house (not subject to amendment by the upper chamber).

After six weeks of turmoil, North Carolina switched its vote to equal representation per state and Massachusetts abstained, and a compromise was reached, being called the “Great Compromise.” In the “Great Compromise,” every state was given equal representation, previously known as the New Jersey Plan, in one house of Congress, and proportional representation, known before as the Virginia Plan, in the other. Because it was considered more responsive to majority sentiment, the House of Representatives was given the power to originate all legislation dealing with the federal budget and revenues/taxation, per the Origination Clause.

Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, both of the Connecticut delegation, created a compromise that, in a sense, blended the Virginia (large-state) and New Jersey (small-state) proposals regarding congressional apportionment. Ultimately, however, its main contribution was in determining the apportionment of the Senate. Sherman sided with the two-house national legislature of the Virginia Plan but proposed “That the proportion of suffrage in the 1st. Branch [house] should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants; and that in the second branch or Senate, each State should have one vote and no more.”[6] Although Sherman was well liked and respected among the delegates, his plan failed at first. It was not until July 23 that representation was finally settled.[6]

What was ultimately included in the constitution was a modified form of this plan, partly because the larger states disliked it. In committee, Benjamin Franklin modified Sherman’s proposal to make it more acceptable to the larger states. He added the requirement that revenue bills originate in the house.

The final vote on the Connecticut Compromise on July 16th left the Senate looking to the Confederation Congress. In the preceding weeks of debate, James Madison of Virginia, Rufus King of New York, and Gouverneur Morris of New York each vigorously opposed the compromise for this reason.[7] For the nationalists, the Convention’s vote for the compromise was a stunning defeat. However, on July 23, they found a way to salvage their vision of an elite, independent Senate. Just before most of the convention’s work was referred to the Committee of Detail, Gouverneur Morris and Rufus King moved that state’s members in the Senate be given individual votes, rather than voting en bloc, as they had in the Confederation Congress. Then Oliver Ellsworth, a leading proponent of the Connecticut Compromise, supported their motion, and the Convention adopted the Compromise.[8]Since the Convention had early acquiesced in the Virginia Plan’s proposal that senators have long terms, restoring that Plan’s vision of individually powerful senators stopped the Senate from becoming a strong safeguard of federalism. State governments lost their direct say in Congress’s decisions to make national laws. As the personally influential senators received terms much longer than the state legislators who elected them, they became substantially independent. The compromise continued to serve the self-interests of small-state political leaders, who were assured of access to more seats in the Senate than they might otherwise have obtained.[9]

Senate representation was explicitly protected in Article Five of the United States Constitution:

…no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.[10]

Source: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – retrieved January 21, 2018 from:

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