You all know about Linda, that now-retired bank teller who back in the 1970s was active in the feminist movement. Even if she never had any formal political experience before this activity, Linda might well have had a talent for politics.
Garry is in the opposite situation: he’s had several political opportunities since his rise to the chess championship, but he’s failed, both in chess politics and in real politics. He does, however, have rich friends, along with the name recognition and a seriousness of purpose that ensures that his political efforts continue to get attention.
To keep at politics even though he’s no good at it: that’s a persistence I admire, no joke. The situation in Russia seems
dire bad and, who knows, maybe Obamacare is as horrible as Kasparov thinks it is—in any case, the former champion is foregoing a quiet and comfortable life of ribbon-cutting and simultaneous exhibitions to fight battles that he keeps losing. The man has a sense of duty.
See here for some background on Kasparov’s political failures: this series of articles by Andy Lewis (linked here) also gives some sense of the disconnect between the grandmaster’s chess and political experiences, and the general advice he’s drawn from these.
Here’s the question: should we even consider listening to political advice from someone who’s so demonstrably bad at politics?
The obvious answer is No, the guy clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
But I’ll argue the opposite, and I’ll base this argument on my own story. I’m bad at politics, and I’m a political scientist. In aspects of my own professional life that have involved “politics”—negotiation, coalition building, etc.—I haven’t been very successful. I’m not proud of this, it’s just the way it is. Working to resolve conflict is not something I’m good at, so I try to avoid politics and instead make my contributions in other way. But . . . I think my research-based insights on U.S. politics are valuable, and that’s why I write articles and books in political science, contribute to the sister blog and newspapers, answer news media inquiries, etc.
So, since I’m bad at politics but I still think I have something useful to say on the topic, I can hardly judge Kasparov otherwise. Bill James probably can’t hit the curveball but he’s still worth reading.
Huh? What’s a “j***” and a “t***”? All I can think of is jackass and twerp, but they don’t seem rude enough to require abbreviation. Clearly I haven’t been hanging out with the right class of people recently.