Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Please don't misunderstand this post...

This is a little more serious than my usual posts, and may be a slightly long narrative; for that, I apologize.  The slightly long bit, I mean.  I am really interested in your response to the view that I am about to express, as this is a bit disconcerting to me at the moment.

Today, while mulling over a few things in my head, I think I've inadvertently come to a conclusion: America's political and judicial system is a crap shoot, a total farce.  No, this is not in response to the results of the presidential election; I came to this conclusion much earlier in the day yesterday, well before any polls had closed or any votes tallied.  Regardless of the outcome, this sentiment is the same.

Please, if you have something to day, let me know!  I don't know that a democracy, or a democratic republic (as is our government), is necessarily a "good" form of government.  (That being said, a monarch or a dictatorship isn't at all an improvement... I'm not sure there is any viable form of government, at least not with people involved.)

Here's why I've come to this conclusion.

Several years ago, I was privileged to be on a jury (if you consider that a privilege).  It was really an absurd, ridiculous case, a car accident where both parties claimed to have had the green light.  The plaintiff was suing the defendant for damages to his van, loss of supplies (paint cans in the van), and medical and time-off-job expenses.  His case?  He didn't recall the accident (memory loss from the accident), but he had his fellow employee in the passenger seat - who by his own admission in testimony was intoxicated and looking down when the accident happened.  The defendant was on his way to work and had, as a witness, an unrelated fellow employee who was behind him at the time of the accident and attested to the fact that they had the green light and the plaintiff had violated the red light.  (The plaintiff's girlfriend worked at the law firm that was representing him... I'm assuming he was getting his case tried for little or no charge because of that; otherwise, I can't believe he would have even taken it to court.)

During the trial, we had a lunch break.  One of the jurors, an older lady who seemed as sweet as she could be, almost caused a mistrial by being late coming back from the lunch break.  She got lost somewhere between the 1st and 3rd floor of the courthouse and couldn't find her way back into the courtroom.  (And, no, I'm not making this up.)  During the deliberation, which didn't take long, we were all in agreement to find for the defendant... all, except that one lady.  After a while, she eventually asked, "Where did it happen?"  When someone mentioned the intersection, she replied, "Oh, yeah, I've been there; sure, I agree."

That was justice?  Granted, it was the right decision (as far as the evidence would reveal), but really, "I've been there, I agree"?  Really sweet old lady, but she should not have been on a jury.  What if there had been someone's life at stake?  What if it would have been some major financial decision, with much less clarity?

Today, at the polling place, I overheard someone asking questions about the ballot, not realizing there was a second side, not understanding where things were located on the ballot, etc.  And, looking at the ballot myself, there was this fantastic wording:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, effective January 1, 2014, to amend Section 247 relating to the authority of the Legislature concerning banks and banking, to repeal various other provisions of Article XIII concerning banks and banking; and to repeal Amendment 154 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 255.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to the contingency that a new Article XII of the state constitution is adopted that repeals existing Section 232 of the state constitution, and subject to the contingency that Sections 10A-2-15.01 and 10A-2-15.02, Code of Alabama 1975, are repealed. (Proposed by Act No. 2012-276)

Um, yeah, what?  "to repeal various other provisions"... and some numbers related to amendments or sections, none of which were included on the ballot.  "Pick yes or no."  Crap shoot.

There were also several items that were statewide constitutional amendments but which were actually very local in effect (for instance, Pritchard Water being consumed into the Mobile Water and Sewer System - that was a statewide item, such that Huntsvillians in north Alabama have a say into whether or not the water system in Mobile takes over the Pritchard water works).  And another item that, as worded, made it seem one way, but (based on what I've learned about the item in question) actually it went the other way (regarding government employee salaries).

So, you have (among other things):

  1. People who are, quite frankly, not capable of making the decisions to be made.
  2. People who have no idea what's going on with the ballot.
  3. People who do have some idea of what's going on with the ballot, but have not done research on the topics.
  4. People who have done research, but are still not qualified for the decision being made.
I am not a CPA or accountant, nor do I have a background in finance or investments.  How qualified am I to make decisions about banking legislation?  And, on top of that, there's not even enough information on the ballot to make such a decision, if I even knew what they were talking about.

Yes, I know: do my research before voting. I get it, I do.  But the point is: how many people do that?  How many people are even capable of doing that for all the items on the ballot?  And what does it matter, for instance, if it's a person on the other side of the state voting for my water works?  (No, I don't live in Pritchard or Mobile, that was a semi-hypothetical scenario.)

Crap shoot.  And it's the same with the judicial system; who knows who you're going to get on your jury?  Maybe some sweet little old lady who'll say, "Where did it happen? Oh, I've been there, I agree!"

Voting - a right, a privilege, but should there be some additional requirements to vote?  Some qualifications, both in terms of ability and in terms of having done the research?  Similarly, should jurors be evaluated (besides just the series of questions they ask during the jury selection)?

I'm just no longer sure that a truly democratic process (even a democratic republic, like we have) is a "good" form of government.  As previously mentioned, a monarchy or a dictatorship (even a benevolent one) isn't necessarily any better, as you have the same inherent problems in the lineage, whether the follow-on rulers are qualified to rule.

Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully I'm wrong.  Please, please... show me how I'm wrong.

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