This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Democracy is great, but requires an informed citizenry. Problem is, that an informed citizenry is virtually impossible these days. The systems of our lives are simply too complex.
Take transportation as an example. 150 years ago, transportation consisted of horses and buggies. Now it requires advancing engineering, a complex understanding of traffic flows, the interaction of multiple systems (e.g. transit, auto, pedestrian, etc), and relationships to hydrologic systems. And even someone who is well-versed in all of those components will still need to develop a fairly sophisticated understanding of the specific place of these systems to fully understand them.
This complexity and sophistication are true for every major system in our lives: foreign relationships, economics, medicine, environmental, etc.
The point of all of this is to say that since we can not be fully or deeply informed, we have no choice but to put professionals in place to manage these systems (this includes politicians). Our duty then has to shift. Rather than being experts on the systems themselves, we must be experts on the professionals we put in place to run things. For that to be possible, transparency, accountability, and public discourse are critically important. Yet, public discourse is virtually worthless these days and there is very little transparency which makes accountability difficult, if not, impossible.
What I think we need to do is attack anything in the public sphere which prevents these things. Attack things which block transparency (like media monopolies and corporate messaging), attack things which block accountability (like the two-party system), and improve public discourse by demanding people debate with respect and from an informed position.
Now with all of that being said, people need to at least have some basic and fundamental knowledge. In a recent poll of people unlikely to vote in the upcoming election (some 90 million people) only 40 percent of them could correctly name the Vice President. That is shocking ignorance and is entirely unacceptable.
Additionally, I think, there has to be a much higher bar for some actions--invading other countries for instance. To approve dropping bombs on people when half of the approvers probably can't find the country on a map is simply unforgivable.