Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

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Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#1  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 8:08 am

Churchill said 'it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.' I agree with that statement, thus far. But how about a new one that I don't think has been tried? Selective suffrage.

Only the top 20% most intelligent would be allowed to vote. There would need to be an objective test like an IQ test to measure intelligence, which didn't favour a particular race or gender. Sure, it would favour language proficiency and quality of education, perhaps, but I think it's good that those who are better in those areas would have an advantage here; I want my country to be run by the best. This test would need to stand the test of time, as it should never need to be updated (except very occasionally, to change an old word to a modern one, perhaps). Because it would never need to be updated and would be 'hardcoded' into a constitution, it would be immute to bias via political interference. Its questions would also need to be generated randomly, of course, so people couldn't learn the answers. What would be hardcoded would be the algorithms to generate the questions.

Is this idea viable? I think the top 20% (or maybe another smaller/larger threshold) making the decisions would make for a much better decision-making process, so the politicians didn't have to pander to the tabloid press. Of course getting an already-democratic voting populace to accept this would be near-impossible, so you'd need to be an Ataturk-like figure with a blank page to create a new system; maybe like certain people in newly-forming North African democracies? I'd be happy to put my money where my mouth is, too. If I'm not in the top quintile, I don't get a vote, but I can still lobby the more intelligent to do stuff for me. They just get to reject it if it's a stupid idea.

Ah, and how would you get everyone to take the intelligence test? Simple - you wouldn't. People would have to want to do it to be able to vote. This has a nice side-effect of eliminating apathetic voters who have just enough energy to get off their ass and vote for who some demagogue tells them to.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#2  Postby mattthomas » May 17, 2011 8:24 am

Everyone deserves to have their needs and desires represented, that is the true goal of democracy.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#3  Postby chairman bill » May 17, 2011 8:47 am

Doesn't sound like democracy to me. Try 'oligarchy'
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#4  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » May 17, 2011 9:09 am

It's not a bad idea, i just don't think it is fair. I would support looking into the idea of giving people a "licence to vote", just that IQ wouldn't be a part of the test. It would be purely based on an understanding of politics.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#5  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 9:29 am

Yeah, maybe you guys are right; democracy isn't a great word. That said, I am talking about rule by 'the people'; just not all of them. A subset. So 'selective suffrage' still seems a reasonable description.

matt: I'm saying that we should try something other than that ideal, for a better society. Maybe representing the needs and desires of the less intelligent is a bad idea. It's always taken as a given that we should, but why?

bill: An oligarchy is defined as 'a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique'. I'd hardly call this a class or clique; it's still a large group of the population, determined purely on intelligence rating.

Ihavenofingerprints: How are you defining 'fair'? If this resulted in an increase in the overall human happiness (because stupid people couldn't influence it) - even amongst stupid people - isn't that 'fairer' than letting them drag everybody down? And again, if one's defining fairness as being an equal voice for everyone, regardless of intelligence, why is that automatically a good thing? Indeed, you quite often hear people celebrating various groups' lack of representation - prisoners, the BNP, communists, etc. It's done openly in parliament.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#6  Postby Grimstad » May 17, 2011 9:31 am

Think long and hard about this folks. EVERY person has a right to vote. If they choose to not exercise it, that is their choice. I'm actually coming around to the Aussie way of doing it. It's not just a right, it's an obligation.

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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#7  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 9:33 am

Grimstad: Why is that a good way of doing things? Why should every person have that right?
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#8  Postby mattthomas » May 17, 2011 9:40 am

Ihavenofingerprints wrote:It's not a bad idea, i just don't think it is fair. I would support looking into the idea of giving people a "licence to vote", just that IQ wouldn't be a part of the test. It would be purely based on an understanding of politics.

I don't think you need to understand politics, you need have an opinion on things that will affect you and hold some opinion on who you think will represent your wishes.

As for whether or not it's a good thing that everyone can vote, If we do not give a large amount of people the right or ability to have themselves represented then we end up with a situation in which we say what we think is best for them. It's not such a big step from that kind of governence to totalitarianism.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#9  Postby Grimstad » May 17, 2011 9:40 am

jez9999 wrote:Grimstad: Why is that a good way of doing things? Why should every person have that right?

Well I'm fairly confident I could pass the IQ test, are you?
I'm not saying it's a good way. I'm saying it's the only way.

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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#10  Postby Doubtdispelled » May 17, 2011 9:42 am

It's a stupid idea. Why? Because sometimes the ones who can pass IQ tests are often completely useless when it comes to real life, common sense, and understanding other people.

jez9999 wrote:Why should every person have that right?


Imagine how you would feel, Jez, if someone decided to take away your right to vote just because - for instance - you are a man. Would that seem fair to you?
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#11  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 9:53 am

mattwilson wrote:As for whether or not it's a good thing that everyone can vote, If we do not give a large amount of people the right or ability to have themselves represented then we end up with a situation in which we say what we think is best for them. It's not such a big step from that kind of governence to totalitarianism.

The 'hardcoding' of the test into a constitution should prevent totalitarianism. Nobody could ever reduce the ruling class to a small elite; it must remain at something like 1/5 of the population.

Grimstad wrote:
jez9999 wrote:Grimstad: Why is that a good way of doing things? Why should every person have that right?

Well I'm fairly confident I could pass the IQ test, are you?

It doesn't matter whether I could pass the test. If I couldn't I'd be happy to lose my vote, as long as the most intelligent 20% ran things. I'd have confidence in their ability.

Doubtdispelled wrote:Imagine how you would feel, Jez, if someone decided to take away your right to vote just because - for instance - you are a man. Would that seem fair to you?

I'm saying the traditional view of 'fairness' - everyone having an equal say - is seriously overrated. More important should be what makes for the best society - the maximum human happiness, the least chance of war, etc.

Determining who gets to vote based on gender is very unlikely to achieve that. Intelligence seems a good factor to me. It isn't perfect, but I think people who're more intelligent are more likely to take an active interest in current affairs, make objective decisions based on the evidence, and - importantly - NOT vote if they realize they don't have enough information to vote sensibly.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#12  Postby mattthomas » May 17, 2011 9:57 am

jez9999 wrote:
mattwilson wrote:As for whether or not it's a good thing that everyone can vote, If we do not give a large amount of people the right or ability to have themselves represented then we end up with a situation in which we say what we think is best for them. It's not such a big step from that kind of governence to totalitarianism.

The 'hardcoding' of the test into a constitution should prevent totalitarianism. Nobody could ever reduce the ruling class to a small elite; it must remain at something like 1/5 of the population.

It doesn't matter, in that situation you have 4/5 of the population who will effectively be told, this is what's happening, you have no say in the matter. Regardless of whether implemented policies are good or bad for them, and let's face it, humans in power have a long track record of looking out for themselves at the cost of others.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#13  Postby Grimstad » May 17, 2011 10:09 am

Just because someone is a genius at medicine, doesn't mean they have a clue about economics.
Just because someone is a genius at economics doesn't mean they have any kind of social conscience.
Just because someone is a genius at physics doesn't mean they have any kind of social skills whatsoever.
Etc., etc., etc.
All you can do is allow all people to vote their own self interest and hope that in the collective voice we have a social conscience and at the very least are able to deduce what a bad choice is based on the results of previous decisions.

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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#14  Postby chairman bill » May 17, 2011 10:24 am

jez9999 wrote:bill: An oligarchy is defined as 'a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique'. I'd hardly call this a class or clique; it's still a large group of the population, determined purely on intelligence rating.


I'd absolutely call it a dominant class or clique. It is not 'The People', and is not democracy. Universal adult suffrage had to be fought for. Labour fought to undo the nonsense of graduates having extra votes for 'university MPs', and businessmen having extra votes based on business premises. We either decide that every citizen has equal worth & equal rights, or we are into oppressing a proportion of that citizenry. A dictatorship of an intelligentsia over the people is just as bad an idea as a dictatorship of the landed gentry.

I come from a working class background, but through hardwork have made the most of my intelligence (such as it is), overcome my dyslexia (well, accomodated & learned to manage it), managed to become an alumnus of five different universities (plus being so twice over from one of them), and am now well ensconced in the middle classes by dint of job. Under a previous system that rewarded university attendance (a mainly middle & upper-class trait), I would have had six votes to another's one. What you propose, with the top 20 percentile having the vote whilst others do not, would give me a 5:0 advantage, even worse than the gerrymandering of Tory & Liberal parties over electoral policy in the past. But the fact of my being middle class is the important bit here. Having raised myself from a being a lad from single-parent household on an estate, to home-owning middle class academic, I am now apart from the masses. I choose to vote not from pecuniary self-interest but from social conscience, but many do not. The middle classes are generally conservative if not Conservative, and will vote for self over others. Concern for the working class, a group typified by poor educational attainment, is minimal. To let the top 20% in IQ tests alone determine government, is to gerrymander the outcome so as to exclude much of the progressive left. When British government was decided by the middle & upper classes (through less than universal suffrage), government was for & by the middle & upper classes, and sod the working class. Intelligence doesn't necessarily mean enlightened social attitudes, nor concern for ones fellow citizens, and such a system would no doubt entrench privilege once again, just as we are on the road to overcoming it.

As far as bad ideas go, this one is pretty bad.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#15  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 10:39 am

bill: You're really saying the progressive left is generally to be found amongst the stupider part of the population? If anything, I'd say the opposite. How many progressive left-wingers read The Sun?

My idea is that this system would allow the country to progress further and faster, and the intelligent would be more likely to think of others, not less. I don't think it would entrench privilege. Again, we're talking about the most intelligent ruling, not the richest. There's only so far money can take you; it can't artificially make you more intelligent than you are.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#16  Postby chairman bill » May 17, 2011 10:46 am

jez9999 wrote:bill: You're really saying the progressive left is generally to be found amongst the stupider part of the population? If anything, I'd say the opposite. How many progressive left-wingers read The Sun?

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. The key is in the 'top 20%' you talk about here. They don't read the Sun or the Mirror. That top 20% are mainly middle-class. The middle-class will have more Daily Mail readers than Guardian & Independent readers. The progressive left will no longer be in a position to have the support of the working class in parliament, but will be mostly out-voted by a self-interested majority from that limited sample of the citizenry that is your select few.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#17  Postby Grimstad » May 17, 2011 10:49 am

jez9999 wrote:bill: You're really saying the progressive left is generally to be found amongst the stupider part of the population? If anything, I'd say the opposite. How many progressive left-wingers read The Sun?

My idea is that this system would allow the country to progress further and faster, and the intelligent would be more likely to think of others, not less. I don't think it would entrench privilege. Again, we're talking about the most intelligent ruling, not the richest. There's only so far money can take you; it can't artificially make you more intelligent than you are.

I recommend you go read every thread started by Cjoe.

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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#18  Postby jez9999 » May 17, 2011 10:54 am

chairman bill wrote:
jez9999 wrote:bill: You're really saying the progressive left is generally to be found amongst the stupider part of the population? If anything, I'd say the opposite. How many progressive left-wingers read The Sun?

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. The key is in the 'top 20%' you talk about here. They don't read the Sun or the Mirror. That top 20% are mainly middle-class. The middle-class will have more Daily Mail readers than Guardian & Independent readers. The progressive left will no longer be in a position to have the support of the working class in parliament, but will be mostly out-voted by a self-interested majority from that limited sample of the citizenry that is your select few.

I don't think the top 20% intelligent in Britain would have many Daily Mail readers.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#19  Postby chairman bill » May 17, 2011 11:11 am

The point is, most people vote based on percieved self-interest. Most of the more intelligent will be in the middle class. Their self-interest will not necessarily be perceived to be to vote for the progressive left. As things stand currently, the progressive left in the UK is greater than the regressive right & regressive left. But that is in part because of where self-interest lies. Amongst those middle-class people, only a (significant) minority are likely to perceive a progressive left as being in their interests, or be prepared to put self-interest aside for a greater social good. Once you exclude 80% of the population, many of whose self-interest overlaps with that progressive left so giving it a majority, you are left with a 20% that when voting in terms mainly of self-interest, will not generally vote for parties of the left.
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Re: Selective suffrage - has this been tried before?

#20  Postby cursuswalker » May 17, 2011 11:25 am

Those who had too low an IQ to vote would still be more than capable of firing a gun.

And, being disenfranchised, they would be perfectly justified in doing so.

Never forget WHY we have universal suffrage.
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