I used to read The Economist quite a bit. I clearly remember one article about the follies of direct democracy. The points it made still resonate today with me.
Mr. Lees attempt to address those follies by limiting the rights to vote to "the smart people" will not work. I challenged him: "Who decides who belongs to this elite group?" He had no answer. I think he needs to think his idea more fully.
Universal suffrage is the only way. People need to know they have had a say. Otherwise, the legitamacy of governance declines.
I am reading the second volume of "Political Order & Political Decay". Twice the author has mentioned the paradox of the Republican Party and its ability to get the "less educated" vote while doing very little for that demographic. Despite that observation, the author is still a fan of the political party (ies) as an institution of governance.
My solution is to channel that vote to be cast in a wiser way. We should not depend that somehow those voters are somehow going to educate themselves.
In my TDG (which I think I have already approached you), voters vote for good character and capacity for governance--and vote for one of their neighbors, not the proffering of two or more political parties.
Each voter will decided for him or herself what constitutes good character and capacity--and vote according to that criteria. For sure, there will be votes cast towards a Trump-like figure. But such figures are not likely to win many local elections. And if a few do win, their buffonery will not see them rise too high.
Different levels of education, income, intellect, religion, etc. already have enough capacity to analyze for good charactor and capacity for governance. The only societal training is to train voters to think in this way--instead of "What can the candidate/party do for me?" or "Who is more entertaining?"
In this way, we maintain universal suffrage.