Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Jury Analogy

I have previously suggested that direct democracy is analogous to judge and jury working together in a court of law, the judge being equivalent to the politicians, the jury equivalent to the electorate. Experts and laymen.
But there are important differences. The decisions made in a court room, though complex, may be narrowly defined: guilty or not guilty. The evidence is closely controlled, dismissed by the judge if inappropriate. The jury members must only consider the evidence presented to the court. Advocates from both sides may cross-examine.
Most of these aspects can also appear in direct democracies. Politicians can narrow multiple Initiatives into a single referendum. Opposition parties can present alternative opinions. But to my mind controlling the quality of the evidence is the most important. This is why I want to see sanctions against lying in public life and national bodies that assess and present scientific information.
Garbage in - garbage out may be just as appropriate to democracy as to computer programming!
Yet people who oppose direct democracy may point out that the judge may dismiss jury members for a multitude of reasons, something I'm not advocating for Interactive Democracy, in the interests of fairness, diversity, bias-reduction and empowerment. A single inept juror has much greater power than a whole mass of inept voters. A juror may be 1 in 12, a voter 1 in 40 million. Using these numbers a single juror has the power of 3.3 million voters!

1 comment:

Kurt said...

The Jury analogy intrigues me, and where you mention about controlling the quality of the evidence, I feel like we could control any lies the politicians might attempt in a "jury" like setting because just like a court case, any unsubstantiated claim would be 'thrown out'. Indeed, a juror holds a lot of power compared to a normal voter of the electorate, and this is (for me) one of the major reasons for Interactive/Direct Democracy...Increased empowerment, which in turn can lead to further political engagement from the electorate, and this is not a bad thing.