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Old 05-10-2008, 09:15 AM
 
11,128 posts, read 12,372,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndfmnlf View Post
.....this election would have been over a long time ago, and Barack Obama would be the hands-down winner.

I wonder what would happen if we passed a constitutional amendment allowing only those with a college education and higher the right to vote. Or for those who can't go to college for whatever reason, they should at least pass some kind of mental aptitude or intelligence test before being allowed to vote. Will our country be better off or worse off as a result? Would a presumably wise electorate produce a wise leader akin to Plato's philosopher-king?

I'm not necessarily advocating this.....I'm just wondering what the implications are of such a system.
This is certainly nothing new and in fact is one of the underlying views of the Straussian sect of neoconservatives that I agree with to some extent.

Here is something I have posted in the past to a related thread.

The goal of except for the items in quotes, this is Will Durant, the author of "The Story of Civilization" talking. He is paraphrasing the thoughts of Plato. The parts in quotes are Plato from "The Republic." Emphasis is mine.

Quote:
Justice would be a simple matter, says Plato, if men were simple; an anarchist communism would suffice....
...why is it that these Utopias never arrive upon the map?
He answers, because of greed and luxury. Men are not content with a simple life: they are acquisitive, ambitious, competitive, and jealous; they soon tire of what they have, and pine for what they have not; and they seldom desire anything unless it belongs to others. The result is the encroachment of one group upon the territory of another, the rivalry of groups for the resources of the soil, and then war. Trade and finance develop, and bring new class-divisions. "Any ordinary city is in fact two cities, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich, each at war with the other; and in either division there are smaller ones–you would make a great mistake if you treated them as single states." A mercantile bourgeoisie arises, whose members seek social position through wealth and conspicuous consumption: "they will spend large sums of money on their wives." These changes in the distribution of wealth produce political changes: as the wealth of the merchant over-reaches that of the land-owner, aristocracy gives way to a plutocratic oligarchy–wealthy traders and bankers rule the state. Then statesmanship, which is the coordination of social forces and the adjustment of policy to growth, is replace by politics, which is the strategy of party and the lust for the spoils of office.
Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its basic principle. Aristocracy ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle within which power is confined; oligarchy ruins itself by the incautious scramble for immediate wealth. In either case the end is revolution. When revolution comes it may seem to arise from little causes and petty whims; but though it may spring from slight occasions it is the precipitate result of grave and accumulated wrongs; when a body is weakened by neglected ills, the merest exposure may bring serious disease. "Then democracy comes: the poor overcome their opponents, slaughtering some and banishing the rest; and give to the people an equal share of freedom and power".
But even democracy ruins itself by excess–of democracy. Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy. This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses. "As to the people they have no understanding, and only repeat what their rulers are pleased to tell them" (Protagoras, 317); to get a doctrine accepted or rejected it is only necessary to have it praised or ridiculed in a poplar play[or in television or cable media today] (a hit, no doubt, at Aristophanes, whose comedies attacked almost every new idea). Mob-rule is a rough sea for the ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course. The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so loves flattery, it is so "hungry for honey," that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the "protector of the people" rises to supreme power. (Consider the history of Rome.)
The more Plato thinks of it, the more astounded he is at the folly of leaving to mob caprice and gullibility the selection of political officials–not to speak of leaving it to those shady and wealth-serving strategists who pull the oligarchic wires behind the democratic stage. Plato complains that whereas in simpler matters–like shoe-making–we think only a specially-trained person will serve our purpose, in politics we presume that every one who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill we call for a trained physician, whose degree is a guarantee of specific preparation and technical competence–we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one; well then, when the whole state is ill should we not look for the service and guidance of the wisest and the best? To devise a method of barring incompetence and knavery from public office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good–that is the problem of political philosophy.
Now of course the very notion of setting a qualifier in order to allow people to cast a vote is blaspheme here in the United States and for some reason, people seem to think the answer lay in getting more uninformed and indifferent people to vote. 10% of stupid is still 10% of stupid and it matters not if it is 10% of 100,000 or a million.

There have even been proposals such as allowing only property owners to vote, which of course has been shot down. You know, no taxation with representation. Well there is already one such current example which when someone is convicted of a felony. So there is actually some precedence.

Immigrants must pass a kind of civics test that shows that they have some grasp of our system of government, a test which I am willing to bet that at the very least 30% of the American voters could not pass. (probably much higher)

As it is today, and from the sake of fairness, we allow everyone who is a citizen but not a felon to vote in our elections. As Plato warned, the people are generally more inclined to vote for those who tell them what the public WANTS to hear regardless of their ability to administer a state. Could you imagine the medical profession using this process to elect the doctor that will be preforming your brain surgery? Yet in matters of managing a state, this is seen as best.

In order for our Republic to function at a peak level of performance, it requires not only a reasonable portion of educated people, but a people who are politically active, aware, and motivated to participate in the system. Sadly, with America's level of education and the prevalence of indifference, the system begs to be corrupted. We have such a large number of cruddy leaders because we have a large number overly emotional people who are prone to sensationalism and fluff. Our government is merely a reflection of its voting base.
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:28 AM
 
775 posts, read 410,883 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
This is certainly nothing new and in fact is one of the underlying views of the Straussian sect of neoconservatives that I agree with to some extent.

Here is something I have posted in the past to a related thread.

The goal of except for the items in quotes, this is Will Durant, the author of "The Story of Civilization" talking. He is paraphrasing the thoughts of Plato. The parts in quotes are Plato from "The Republic." Emphasis is mine.



Now of course the very notion of setting a qualifier in order to allow people to cast a vote is blaspheme here in the United States and for some reason, people seem to think the answer lay in getting more uninformed and indifferent people to vote. 10% of stupid is still 10% of stupid and it matters not if it is 10% of 100,000 or a million.

There have even been proposals such as allowing only property owners to vote, which of course has been shot down. You know, no taxation with representation. Well there is already one such current example which when someone is convicted of a felony. So there is actually some precedence.

Immigrants must pass a kind of civics test that shows that they have some grasp of our system of government, a test which I am willing to bet that at the very least 30% of the American voters could not pass. (probably much higher)

As it is today, and from the sake of fairness, we allow everyone who is a citizen but not a felon to vote in our elections. As Plato warned, the people are generally more inclined to vote for those who tell them what the public WANTS to hear regardless of their ability to administer a state. Could you imagine the medical profession using this process to elect the doctor that will be preforming your brain surgery? Yet in matters of managing a state, this is seen as best.

In order for our Republic to function at a peak level of performance, it requires not only a reasonable portion of educated people, but a people who are politically active, aware, and motivated to participate in the system. Sadly, with America's level of education and the prevalence of indifference, the system begs to be corrupted. We have such a large number of cruddy leaders because we have a large number overly emotional people who are prone to sensationalism and fluff. Our government is merely a reflection of its voting base.
Excellent, excellent, and that's it in a nutshell. However, this time, for some reason, I am more hopeful. I know your choice is not Obama, but at least he may be a beginning for something better.
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Charlotte
12,646 posts, read 13,612,225 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post

In order for our Republic to function at a peak level of performance, it requires not only a reasonable portion of educated people, but a people who are politically active, aware, and motivated to participate in the system. Sadly, with America's level of education and the prevalence of indifference, the system begs to be corrupted. We have such a large number of cruddy leaders because we have a large number overly emotional people who are prone to sensationalism and fluff. Our government is merely a reflection of its voting base.
Indeed it is. Excellent Post.
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Old 05-10-2008, 10:00 AM
 
11,128 posts, read 12,372,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flindras View Post
Excellent, excellent, and that's it in a nutshell. However, this time, for some reason, I am more hopeful. I know your choice is not Obama, but at least he may be a beginning for something better.
Well to be honest, I don't know what Obama's ability to manage and execute his office would be. Of course, I don't think anyone really does until they have settled into the position.

However, there are other qualities to leadership beyond simple intelligence that are not so easily quantifiable. Take Carter for instance, who happened to be one of the most intelligent Presidents in our entire history, yet was not an effective administrator or President. Then we have Reagan who wasn't stupid by any means but was much further down the education scale, yet he ended up being a very effective leader, as was Clinton.

For what it is worth and despite all its flaws in passing junk along, I thank the internet for being a pipe line of raw information and quite possibly the best thing to happen to our Republic in two generations.
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Old 05-10-2008, 10:37 AM
 
29,462 posts, read 33,694,226 times
Reputation: 11093
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCN View Post
If Obama is an example of what educated voters would elect, one would think that maybe the less educated voters should do the choosing.

People coming straight out of college are sometimes voting what the professors have brain-washed them into voting. About 20 years down the road, I changed parties. I saw what socialist presidents do to our democracy. Good in theory, bad in practice.
I have read this several times and had to ponder and now I fully understand. Great thread OP
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Old 05-10-2008, 10:54 AM
 
8,758 posts, read 8,633,533 times
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I have two undergraduate degrees and a master's degree and I wouldn't vote for Obama if he was the only one running.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Romeoville, IL
1,238 posts, read 2,180,235 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walidm View Post
And who, may I ask, typically are called to represent "the less-educated and typically less affluent". I'd venture to say the more affluent, more educated, most empathetic populace.
The less educated populace usually votes democrat anyway. I don't know what kind of argument the thread starter is trying to make.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:08 AM
 
Location: San Antonio North
4,147 posts, read 7,091,384 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walidm View Post
No, what he's implying, is that based on the Demographic of Senator Obama's current support - he would be a shoe-in.
That is only the type of democrat that he is attracting. Might not be a shoe in.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:14 AM
 
8,758 posts, read 8,633,533 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronK View Post
The less educated populace usually votes democrat anyway. I don't know what kind of argument the thread starter is trying to make.

That is what I was thinking also. Most of the population that is well educated votes Republican anyway so in the general election I am not sure this will be a valid point.
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:25 AM
 
90 posts, read 220,148 times
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I went to a (very liberal) college as a democrat. I went to graduate school as a moderate. I left as a republican with a PhD.
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