Don't think for a minute that the ARRL and its directors are immune to playing politics; just like any other organization, there are ways to get things done, and then ways to "really" get things done.
The board meetings, for example, are often (at least in part) a dog-and-pony show for the benefit of the folks "back home." For example, it isn't uncommon for a director to propose some change in policy that he or she actually doesn't want and would not vote for. The sole purpose of some director's motions is to show those back home the director is listening to their concerns, and is taking "action" at the board level. I've even been told more than once that a director will tell the rest of the directors NOT to vote for a proposal meant simply for show.
One of the facts of life when serving as a director or vice-director is that you don't get to pick the man you will serve with -- and this means that you may wind up serving with a vice-director you despise.
I've witnessed this in my own division. The vice-director was a former director who lost earlier to the director. At the next election, the former director won the vice-director seat; as you can imagine, this set up a pretty awful scenario. The director refused to work with the vice-director -- beyond handing him a bunch of shitty tasks to do. The director and vice-director were at odds at every step; the vice-director treated the director -- the elder of the two -- with respect, but refused to take orders from him. The vice-director eventually resigned, and the director replaced him with a former SM.
I had considered running for vice director at one time, and the director told me he would be retire at some point in the near future, and he asked if I would be interested in the vice-director position. I thank him for the consideration, and told him I was. That was all baloney that was designed to encourage me to run for another term as SM. If I didn't remain SM, I wouldn't be considered for the appointment, pure and simple.
Yeah, I was gullible. The director knew what he was doing.
The next year, the director resigned within a couple of weeks of the deadline to request the nominating petition to file for director or vice director. It took some time for word to get out, and by that time, the deadline had passed. The vice director was elevated to director, and he appointed his pick for vice director. With no time to get petitions filed, the move insured there would be opposition. By a stroke of luck, one person had already filed for vice director, but the power of the incumbency ruled the day -- even if it was for a short time.
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SM AND DIRECTOR? We both wear red official ARRL badges, and are the League's only elected officials, but there's a lot of difference between what we do.
The Section Manager is responsible for managing the field programs in the section, and for making appointments in those programs. The Director appointment deals with the management and policies of the ARRL, including QST.
The director and vice director attend the board's meetings twice each year, as well as participate in other meetings as required. Directors also have a much larger territory to cover, and they are expected to attend hamfests and events in the division.
As much as I thought I wanted it, I prefer life unattached to an ARRL elective position. Maybe in the future? Who knows!?