This member may be a long-time democrat, a former officer, or even a former chair. They can be recognized because they often start their comments with "Just a couple of brief points...." but seldom offer a 'couple', or 'brief', or 'points'. They cannot understand how the organization can survive without their divine voice. They may be convinced they are the conscience of the association.
The Pompous Historian devotes much of their comments to explaining how it was done "in their time" and why it cannot be done in the currently proposed manner. Their explanations delve into every aspect of ancient meetings that they can still recall, regardless of relevancy. The Pompous Historian seeks to control the decision making process but does not wish to get their hands dirty with actual committee work.
Solution: The presiding officer must have the confidence to break into the story telling of the Pompous Historian and inquire:
"Since we do not have a motion on the floor, did you wish to make a motion"
"Do you have any specific comments to present on the immediate pending question?"
"Would you prepare a written report on the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed process?"
The political landscape is ever changing and that change often requires different approaches or trying approaches that didn't work in the past again to see if they can flourish in a new environment. Change is never easy and some have a difficult time in adjusting to that change.
Of the four debate abusers in this series, the Pompous Historian may be the hardest to deal with as a chair. Our organizations have long histories and members that have contributed countless years of their lives to help advance the party. Their experience is invaluable and should never be dismissed out of hand. The key difference that separates a knowledgeable experienced member from a Pompous Historian is their approach. This approach may range from outright aggression, to bouts of passive aggressiveness, to actively undermining the elected officers and decisions of the body.
The key to addressing the Pompous Historian is empowering them. This may seem counterproductive but realize that their actions often stem from a deep concern over the success of the organization and desire to see it be successful. While the first two suggested quotes above are helpful in moving the meeting along, without some additional actions, the member may feel as if they are being ignored. This can exacerbate the issue.
Follow up with the third, if time permits, or invite them to refer the matter to a standing committee (or create an adhoc one) and ask them to participate in that committee to help find the best solution. If the matter is urgent and cannot wait for a committee to review, make sure to acknowledge their experience and politely direct them to be respectful of the membership's time by keeping their comments germane to the matter at hand.
While this approach may alleviate the once in a while distraction, if a pattern of poor behavior starts to emerge, it is important to follow up with the member privately to address the issue. Again, remember to assume the best intentions and acknowledge the skills the member brings to the organization. Remind them that constant public criticism of the decisions made by the body can demoralize the membership and serve to weaken the organization they are fighting so hard for. Stress the importance of finding SOLUTIONS, not just problems.
One of the strengths of the parliamentary procedure in Robert's Rules is the requirement that all business must start with a motion, that is a solution to a problem. This keeps the body focused on solving problems, not dwelling on them. If they don't have a solution, let them know that making a motion to refer the subject to a committee is a great way to bring attention to the issue and develop solutions as a team outside of the meeting so that the body can use its time most wisely and later be brought a solution that already has been thought out.
In the event that the member is not agreeable, keep encouraging them to put their money where their mouth is. If they repeatedly refuse to participate in committees or refuse to offer solutions, with enough time the membership will see their motives and their arguments will carry less and less weight with the membership. Then, if necessary, take a stronger approach when they attempt to abuse the debate process, but always do so with respect. You may eventually win them over when they see their negative actions will not be rewarded and they realize taking a more active, positive approach is a better course to take.
If you are successful, you will have turned a Pompous Historian into a Productive Historian, and that is a win for the entire organization.