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Dock: I'm not sure whether you have read my post carefully enough. But just to make sure my position is clear, I am not in favor of any version of a civics test to gain voting rights, Mr. Paine's or otherwise. Universal suffrage is the only way to go.
But I do like to introduce new ideas into discussion, even those I disagree with. Mr. Paine does have a logical argument to his position. Maybe there is something there that can spurn us on to some better thinking.
I spent six years in party politics. The parties may try to try to vet or say they have tried to vet. But I have seen alcoholics, lazy people, disloyal people, psychopaths, etc. all take a run at the nominations. At best, the party may hope the party membership is able to cast a wise voice, but sometimes these "crazy people" do win the nomination. If they are in a political jurisdiction where the party is set to win, these same people then become part of the government.
If you have some ideas on how parties can vet for better candidates, I would like to hear about them.