Second, your insistence on going all the way past "undue influence of unsuspecting subjects" to "mind control" is a reduction to absurdity argument.
Persuasion is a science of percentages. Based on things like focus groups. IE "40% of white males age 18-35 will respond favorably to a message that includes element "x". "
Put another way, if your critical thinking premise is correct then I assume you are incapable of enjoying stage magic because your critical thinking skills cause you to see through every trick. Their entire stock in trade is tricking you into believing you are seeing things you are not.
And that there are no con men in the world, because critical thinking causes everyone to see through their tricks. "Mind control" it ain't, but they've been tricking people into handing over their money for centuries. So its not a huge leap to posit that the same cognitive "glitches" they use can be used to trick people into handing over their votes.
And as an aside, some of the techniques in play are immune to critical thinking. They exploit "hardwiring" and allow the unscrupulous to "bypass" our critical thinking tools.
A specific curricula examining how these techniques work and how they are implemented would be necessary to armor one against them.