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Thread started by Dave Winer on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

Jury duty, voting and Romney

1. Jury duty is amazing. Especially if you go all the way to a verdict. You learn how the architecture of our democracy places its faith in the people. You might think, if you listened to some of our political leaders, that this would be a bad idea. Because most of us are takers not makers. But it works, because people are a lot smarter, honest and hard-working than we give ourselves credit for. And when you trust people, when you really make that point, and the legal process does that, over and over, everyone comes through. Some people accept trust faster than others, but in the end, all twelve jurors accept their responsibility. When we passed judgement I was sure we had arrived at the correct decision.

As a juror this is impressive. Everyone stands when the jury comes in. But then everyone, including the jury, stands when the judge enters. Speech is formal, polite, even when they're saying horrible things. May it please the court. Your honor. Mr. Jones. It's all about respect.

And the jurors must remain silent, for days on end. But the irony is that everyone in the room is waiting for us to speak. You are left with your thoughts and your senses. You look, you listen. Think. What does that mean. What are they really saying. Look at the body language. It's deliberative, almost a meditation. Because the question they're asking is serious. Did this person do something horrible. Something they must be punished for. In the US we don't take this lightly.

2. Voting is the same idea. You have to look and look at the people who are asking for your vote. Sure they're lying. So was the defendent in the trial. Everyone lies, even if they took the oath saying they wouldn't. Dirty little secret is that if you're on trial, everyone understands that you can lie to defend yourself. And so do politicians. But if you really think about it, you know who they are and what they're really saying, behind the lies.

3. So nothing was actually revealed about Mitt Romney in yesterday's tapes. If you had been watching this guy, like a juror watches every actor in the courtroom, you recognized the pattern. He might have been the guy who runs a company you once worked for. The principal of your school. Your friend's grandfather. To me, he was a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He was the kind of guy who doesn't know what it means to speak the truth. His existence has nothing to do with the truth. He's a goal-oriented person. He's trying to get something from you. He doesn't care what he has to say to get it. Since he's running for President, a lot of the times that means he's out of his element and you can tell. He's not comfortable with teachers, with working people. But speaking to the rich donors in that dining room, that was his element. He was comfortable. The same way the defendent in our DUI case would have been comfortable in a bar slamming down a few whiskies before going for a drive. No juror would have been fooled by Mitt Romney before the tape, but what we saw confirmed what we already knew.

I believe in the American system, and totally reject the idea that your vote doesn't matter. You think it doesn't matter because you haven't discovered what it means. If you had a little faith in it, if 25 percent more people had more faith, it would work a lot better than you have imagined. Because given enough time, no matter how much they lie, we figure it out. Change will come slowly but it will come. But don't tell me it can't change if you haven't even tried.