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1.3.04

An Advantage Of The Two Party System

Another thought on the "just trust the experts" thesis: It seems that the two-party system has the advantage of allowing one to be agnostic on more issues, in recognition of one's lack of competence to decide. For example, I remain deliberately agnostic on the question of abortion* -- I go out of my way to avoid arguments and information that could dispose me to feeling that we either should or should not ban the procedure (or that, given an unwanted pregnancy and access to legal abortion, a woman should or should not get one). This would be a tough position to maintain if there were political parties representing every different combination of policy views. I'd be confronted with a decision of voting for a party that agreed with me on all issues and was pro-life, and one that agreed with me on all issues and was pro-choice. I'd have to make some sort of decision on abortion, even if it was just to throw my lot in with some professional ethicist whose other views I agreed with. But with only the Democrats and Republicans to choose from, my decision is much easier. I would have to be consumed with passion for the pro-life cause before my views on abortion swayed me to vote for a Republican in most circumstances, because I align with the Democrats on so many more issues. The two-party system allows me to be pro-choice in practice while remaining philosophically agnostic. Of course, this situation wouldn't help if my political views were less liberal and so the Democrats' and Republicans' respective faults on all the issues I cared about evenly balanced, leaving abortion as the tiebreaker (the libertarian conundrum).

*Granted, my reasoning for this choice is more about efficient allocation of my intellectual resources than about my inability to achieve expertise -- indeed, it's the fear that I could easily come to a well-grounded opinion that makes me put forth effort to avoid the temptation to engage in the debate.

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