Some Observations on Voting from a former Juror
By Vince Coakley, Talk Show Host, Revolution Radio, Charlotte, NC
I recently had the privilege (cough, cough) of serving on a jury in a criminal case. Like most of you, this was not something I looked forward to. As a small business owner, I am at a critical stage of developing my product and the prospect of a trial with an open ended time frame was the last thing I needed. But as is typical with so many of the developments in my life, I found this to be a valuable experience, before the kidnapping/rape trial even started.
As a recovering news anchor, I’m very well aware of the fact that many of the people in the Charlotte area know who I am. My hope was that this notoriety would translate into a quick dismissal. Add to that I had done previous stories with the Lead Prosecutor and just had lunch with one of the Defense Attorneys last month. He is also the Chairman of the local County Commission.
So I found myself taking in quite a pre-trial spectacle. I don’t know if this is typical, but the jury selection process was brutally painful. There were people who had legitimate issues that kept them from serving. One by one, they were weeded out: a man with a store his mother was unable to keep open, a man whose wife was about to have surgery the following week (the trial would last at least a week and there was no guarantee of wrapping up in time).
But the most revealing prospective juror situations were those where the person indicated an inability to approach the trial with an open mind and objectively weight the facts. Please understand that I am not at all critical of these men and women. In fact, I respect their honesty. I only wish this translated into our election process. But we’re not there yet.
Among the dismissed jurors:
A woman who had a relative who was sexual molested. Because of this experience in her family, she feared there would be no way to give the defendant a shot at a fair trial.
Then there was the woman whose best friend was raped years ago when the two were only 17. It sounded like they may have been somewhere they should not have been, so the crime was never reported. Again, the emotional connection to a rape caused her to doubt her ability to be objective.
And there was a man who had already served on a jury and did not want to again. Why not? The men and women he attempted to deliberate with before were not able to reach a verdict. By his account, one juror caused a deadlock because he refused to believe the evidence in the case. He had an axe to grind against police.
As I watched these prospective jurors get dismissed, it dawned on me that I’m watching a microcosm of what’s wrong with our election process. If people have emotional experiences that cloud their judgment, rendering them unable to be objective in a trial, is it possible the same applies to voting in elections.
Before anyone suggests I’m about to make an argument for a litmus test to vote… let me put your fears to rest. That’s not the purpose of this article. The intent is to raise the question as to how deeply our election process is corrupted by terribly broken people who are unable to get beyond their own personal offenses and biases to judge what is in the best interest of the nation.
Even now, as we debate the intent of Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks at a fundraiser, there’s something very revealing about voter reaction: the people who protest the loudest are probably the very people who won’t vote for Romney because they fear their benefits would be endangered if he becomes President.
Using the “disqualified juror” standard, how might it apply to these situations?
- the racially minded voter who favors a Black candidate just because he’s Black (though he may not be willing to admit this)
- the female voter who is preoccupied with her uterus and can’t see beyond reproductive issues?
- the female voter who has a visceral contempt for men who are real men, and only willing to trust those who pander to their intimidation and manipulation
- emotional “orphans”, people with jacked up family relationships and no one else to depend on other than the government with its social programs.
- people with no functional knowledge of the Constitution. So they are susceptible to manipulation by vapid “experts”
- people with an aversion to intellectual pursuits like reading. The news media will tell them everything they need to know.
I’m a firm believer that our Republic will not survive with an electorate dominated by the kinds of people I’ve described above. I also know that our greatest issues go beyond politics. There are spiritual dimensions to this that we must apprehend if there is to be any hope of national recovery. Presidents, Congress and the Courts can make positive changes in some areas, but it is doubtful that any significant progress will develop until our people are healthy human beings, ready to pursue ideals that transcend policies driven by nothing more than political pragmatism.
I believe the pathway to “wholeness” begins with a vital, relational connection with our Creator. The alternative is to continue down a path that leads to electoral suicide.
Vince Coakley was a news anchor at WSOC (Channel 9) in Charlotte, NC for 18 years, then for a year hosted a conservative talk show on WBT-AM (1110) in afternoon drive-time. He is now doing an hour-long podcast on blogtalkradio.com.