What if all the smart people are in one party?

Ross Douthat thinks through liberaltarianism and the new spatial equilibrium has him worried:

What could happen, instead, is a bigger-tent liberalism – somewhat
chastened, perhaps, by some big-government failures in the Obama era –
that makes libertarian intellectuals feel welcome, engages them in
conversations about smarter regulations and more efficient tax policy,
and generally woos them away from their culturally-dissonant alliance
with people who attend megachurches and Sarah Palin rallies. This would
make for a smarter left-of-center in the short run, but I think in the
long run it would be pernicious. It would further the Democratic
Party's transformation into a closed circle of brainy meritocrats, and
push the Republican Party in a yet more anti-intellectual direction.
And it would produce an elite consensus more impervious to structural
critiques, and a right-wing populism more incapable of providing them.
The Democratic Party would hold power more often, and become more
sclerotic as a result; the GOP would take office less often, and behave
more recklessly on those rare occasions when it did manage to seize the
reins of state.

Put aside your views on the R, D, and L people and think in terms of an abstract argument.  There is an optimal distribution of smart people across political parties and it need not be all in the same party.  For one thing, the marginal product of a smart person in a stupid party might be very high.  For another, being in power all the time may corrupt the thinking processes of smart people and we want to have some smart people insulated from this corruption.

So should a smart person attempt to move the world toward an optimal distribution of smart people across parties?  Or should a smart person join the party he or she most wishes to belong to?  Should a smart person advise others according to the same standard she uses to regulate herself?  In general does the world "cluster" smart people too much or too little?

You'll notice that many of these questions apply to fun parties and not just political parties. 

The excellent Arnold Kling adds insightful comment.


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