In a previous post, I proposed a metaphor for the government as a large number of dials that policymakers can set while acknowledging physical and political constraints. In this post, I discuss the two dials which I perceive have been the most important issues in determining voter identities in the USA. These issues are the total percentage of Gross Domestic Product that the voters spend which I call Dial 502 and the degree of legality associated with abortion in society, which I call Dial 617. By giving these issues obscure numbers, I am highlighting how complicated government is and how simplistic it is to focus on two issues only.
In relation to dial 502, I suggest two things seem important. First, the idea of setting this dial to zero may reflect a desire to imagine that government is unimportant and unnecessary rather than a careful data-driven study of the unavoidability of government participation in various sectors. Are other countries successfully having less government participation in the technology or energy sectors? Second, the choice to fix the percentage of GDP spend in the US has meant a reduction in investment in science and infrastructure investment. The aging of the US population has meant an increase in entitlement spending while there have been significant reductions in the federal workforce government spending related to growth and investment.
In relation to dial 617, there is a legitimate argument that the US is currently permitting around 800,000 human beings or at least a fetus to be killed by their would-be mothers and their health care professionals. At the same time, the abortion rate is now currently lower than the rate in 1973 when the US Supreme court made abortion legal in all states. Also, the idea that only dial 617 could impact abortion rates is simply not true. Demographic trends have helped reduce the abortion rate as older people have fewer abortions. Yet, there are many other activities including relating to education and poverty that could continue to reduce abortion rates. Admittedly, countries like Saudi Arabia really do have lower abortion rates through governmental and societal actions. Yet, the heavy hand is not the only hand.
The main point here is that thinking about and fixating on one or two dials can permit undesirable leaders to gain office. This can cause poor setting choices for the thousand or millions of other dials. It can also create a strong incentive for simplistic thinking and a disincentive for learning. I already picked my one or two settings, leave me alone! Single issue voting may be the main reason why US citizens are quite ignorant about the big picture of the US government in the context of world history.