This will probably be the last I excerpt James for a while, but it also is (1) awesome, (2) directly related to what Grizzly and Diderot were talking about, and (3) draws parallels to baseball. How could we not. :- )
The first except is from a Nov. 25, 2012 article, not Hey Bill, but an article ... $3 per month to sign up here ... remember now this is in reference to the Obama-Romney election, not this year's election.
The second is from last June's Hey Bills. Okay, the second and third.
64 million votes to 60 million.
People will tell you that the man who designed the baseball field had to be a genius because after 150 years, infielders are still throwing out runners by a single step. 90 feet is the perfect distance. 87 feet, all those runners would be safe; 93 feet, there would be no close plays. 90 feet is a directive from God.
What this misses, of course, is the internal forces of the game. Infielders are still throwing out runners by a single step not because 90 feet is a perfect distance, but because infielders position themselves in such a way that they maximize their coverage. The place where an infielder can make the most plays is the place where the plays are closest and most difficult. If the bases were 80 feet apart the infielders would move in a couple of steps, the outfielders would move in one step, and there would still be just as many close plays at first base. Not EVERYTHING would be exactly the same, but the number of close plays doesn’t depend on the distance. It depends on the fielders positioning themselves so as to maximize the number of plays that they can make.
In modern American politics, the two parties split most elections almost 50-50—so much so that a 64-60 vote is considered a rout. Political commentators will talk about how remarkably evenly split the American electorate is.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the electorate being evenly split. It results from political parties adopting positions that maximize their coverage. The Republicans may want to ban abortion entirely (certainly some of them do), but they also want to win elections. The Democrats may wish to legalize infanticide (certainly some of them do), but they also want to win elections. If either side adopts a radical position, they lose elections, lose power, and have to adapt their position.
The Republicans may wish to devote 70% of the federal budget to military spending; the Democrats may wish to cut it to 5%. If either side pushes too hard, they lose elections, and have to adapt. The positions taken by each side on every issue are constantly adjusted and adapted to form a compromise between the extreme positions and the center of the country—hence, elections in a two-party system are always pushed near to the 50-50 balance point.
One would think this was obvious, but believe me, I watch a LOT of political analysis, and 90% of the political analysts don’t have a clue that this is what is happening. - Bill James
... actually, I'll just sum this up for him. He thinks "gerrymandering" is a waste of time, because of the more fundamental "ameoba vote slips and slides to cover 70% of the ballpark" type vote.
People reply that state representatives have incredible data to work with. Bill replies that it's like the use of 6 relievers a game -- absolutely everybody believes it's a decisive factor, and if you look at the results, there are never ANY results.
Heh! I don't know if he's right, but it's a comforting thought. The whole concept here, the resiliency of the American voter, is a comforting thought.
He had one other Richter 8.0 thought in that verdant June 2016 Hey Bill archive, which we'll sum up briefly.
If your dog makes a mess on the rug, and you punish him 24 hours later, that is NOT enforcement of rules. It will have no effect. It is simply taking out your frustration on the dog. Punishment of players who used steroids 20 years ago? The time to punish him was ... at the time. There are exceptions; murder charges don't have to be enforced immediately. (But Eccl. 8:11 says, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of men are fully set in them to do evil.)
Point is, the time to punish a Mexican for crossing the border is not after he's been working here four years, and has a 2-year-old baby. The place to enforce border law is at the border.
I found that argument strangely compelling, and it moved my position on immigration farther away from "deportation" (except criminals) and closer to the "Wall." Your mileage may vary.