Glad to see another reply! I don't feel I ignored any of that, but I certainly didn't respond to it all and I apologize if that came out as dismissal. I'll try to be more complete.
My point here was that I feel that voting gives the illusion of participation while the system is resilient to change. More so in the US than in other places due to the "republicrat" duopoly (but up here in Canada we have our share of problems as well).
And following that link-
One requirement for democracy to work is a rational, informed and involved populace, which I submit we do not have. The majority of voters are not familiar with the issues, do not understand the issues, vote by gut reactions -- often against their own (and society's at large) interests -- and are easily manipulated.
This is compounded by the horrible "first past the post" method which gives the "winner" disproportional representation; the two-party system (in the US) which, combined with the propensity of the parties/candidates to frame the political discourse in terms of superficial and minor but highly polarizing differences, distills the involvement into a single "Kang vs. Kodos" vote; the lack of repercussions for not keeping campaign promises (allowing parties/candidates to give contradictory promises to appeal to all voters); and campaign financing laws that (in the US at least) effectively enshrine the "one dollar, one vote" principle, which leads me to conclude that what we have is a "democracy theater" rather than a real "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
I agree to a point; "illusion of participation" implies that public opinion has no real impact, whereas I feel public opinion heavily impacts certain decisions and minimally impacts routine ones. That is, politicians can ignore people most of the time, but not always, and not when the general population is motivated to care - particularly with the impact of the web and the ability to rapidly disseminate information to anyone interested.
Voters do sometimes disappoint, but we are not uneducated nor so completely unaware of our own values, although individual benefit is definitely something which is deliberately obscured by politicians (it's always intriguing to see the various and widely conflicting reports on the impact of new taxes or budgets). The oft-repeated claim that many people vote against their own interest is, however, fairly condescending, and usually assumes that the values of all voters perfectly match those of the commenter. In particular they generally place no value on non-material benefits like social programs, long term investments or moral values, nor take into account the multi-faceted nature of campaign platforms (I routinely vote for democrats although I disagree with them regarding gun rights; it could be claimed that I'm voting against my own interest, but the reality is that I just consider the issue less important than other differences).
My mistake was not clearly labelling my opinion (that it would be better not to let people who lack critical thinking skills vote) as wishful thinking since I know that it will never happen.
However, I did qualify it as such in a subsequent post.
It was a minor point, but somehow it got picked up upon and became the main topic of the discussion, something that I would rather did not happen.
I saw that, but didn't have much to say about it. It feels like a distancing move; your opinion is this would be good, but you wouldn't propose we actually do it. Ultimately, though, it's a non-issue to me in relation to the idea, which I preferred to judge on its own merits rather than your degree of support.
I do realize it was only a part of your overall post, just as it is merely one part of this one. However, it's the most contentious and frankly the most interesting, so it's what I talked about, rather than the long litany of "mostly agree" and "somewhat agree" responses to fairly well known issues with American politics.
I did try to respond to criticisms by noting that there is a big quantitative difference between "less educated" and "devoid of critical thinking skills", by suggestion the improvement in free public education should take care of the socioeconomically disadvantage in that respect and by suggesting using currently accepted tests with double-blind grading.
I don't believe I ever said anyone was devoid of critical thinking skills. I was working toward the point that lower socioeconomic status directly impacted education which directly impacted critical thinking, which you'd discussed measuring as a requirement to vote. Ergo, requiring a higher level of critical thinking would have an over-proportional impact on the poor who I feel are already the group most victimized by our political process. This would intensify the problem, not correct it.
Improved schools are not a new solution (nor an ignored one, with the debate on ECAA currently raging), nor do I feel the inequality is that easy to remedy.
Standardized testing and oversight isn't going to address the issue because the disparity isn't an extraneous variable but is, in fact, exactly what is being tested for.
Furthermore, I mentioned that the current system is similar to what I described except that it uses an arbitrary age point as a (bad) predictor of mental maturity. [[ Aside: the voting age has been lowered from 21 to 18 in many countries, and to 16 in some ]] And I also mentioned that "felony disenfranchisement" appears to be an acceptable practice in the US (and was ruled constitutional) and that there is a proven correlation between "class" and criminal record.
The voting age in the US is 18; age certainly isn't a perfect indicator of mental maturity, but neither is it arbitrary. I support lowering it to 16, the age at which citizens can be drafted, although I don't think that will have a significant influence on politics (younger people are usually less likely to vote). Felony disenfranchisement is a thing, and a surprisingly significant one (2.5% of the population). I'm less sure what to make of that. As you say, there is a clear correlation with race and class there, but it is also a legitimate test of social responsibility. Ultimately, I think the best response is to address the issues of poverty that lead to crime, and the current trend is a positive one. Nor am I willing to equate lack of critical thinking/education with immorality as a legitimate reason to disenfranchise.
Finally, I (yet again) conceded the point that this is not feasible to implement and instead suggested (this time a suggestion and not just a personal opinion) making critical thinking (and civics) mandatory subjects in the school curriculum in order to improve the situation.
I'd be surprised to see any curriculum that doesn't include them. That said, attempts to standardize (such as No Child Left Behind) and an economy-driven emphasis on the sciences have negatively impacted social sciences programs.
My main point was that voting, in its current implementation amounts to little more than "democracy theater" (with apologies to Bruce Schneier). If you wish to contest it, by all means do so and if you present convincing arguments I will gladly reevaluate my position in view of them.
Regardless, do have a good day; they are so much better then bad or even "meh" ones.
The sheer quantity of effort, expense and attention given to elections indicate two things to me: first, that votes do matter. $6 billion spent on election propaganda indicates a massive use of resources with no return other than ballots, which are ultimately a choice. Secondly, it indicates to me that propaganda influences voters, or again it wouldn't be spent. This, however, is softened by the notion that there isn't a direct correlation: democrats have only out-spent republicans in one election cycle of the last 13
. Money buys elections, but it requires substance to back it up as well. It's imperfect, but not broken.