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I'm not sure of the meaning of the expression "We give up on singles and doubles" in the phrase "We give up on singles and doubles, hoping some slugger will come along and swing for the fences".

Is it something like in money games in casinos ?

From The Atlantic

Achieving results nationally means participating locally. The scale of the country’s challenges can seem so vast that only grand solutions offer any hope of meeting them. We give up on singles and doubles, hoping some slugger will come along and swing for the fences. This is wrong on two counts. First, the steep decline of democratic participation is itself one of our central challenges, reflecting a loss of conviction that government is actually in our hands. Only participation can solve the participation problem. Second, the impact of participation trickles up. Rosa Parks didn’t start out by taking on all of Jim Crow; she started out by taking a seat on a local bus. National efforts on the environment, health care, highways, the minimum wage, workplace safety—all got their start in one state or another. And Washington isn’t synonymous with America, anyway. Community life is sustained locally, not only through government but through a wealth of civic associations that depend on the participation of ordinary people. The president famously possesses a bully pulpit, but the impetus for change just as often comes from the pews.

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    In the context, it seems to mean small and individual efforts. Perhaps it is a reference to a ball game, giving up the attempt to score just one or two runs in the hope that a slugger – a big hitter – will make a great score. "Swing for the fences" – hit the ball as far as possible. – Weather Vane Apr 20 at 21:07
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I hope you recognise this as being a metaphor, and sport is a very common source for metaphors.

In this case the sport is "baseball". The literal meaning of a "single" is a hit where the batter can run to first base. And a double is when the batter can run to second base. A slugger is a batter who hits the ball very hard. And to "swing for the fences" is to swing the bat very hard to try to hit the ball beyond the fences at the back of the ground and score a home run (when the batter can run all the way round)

Metaphorically "We give up on singles" means we give up on small improvements. We hope that someone will come along and make a very big improvement in one go.

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  • Thanks for your explanations. I saw it was a metaphor, but I didn't think of sports (I forget that baseball is so important is US!). – Jérôme Apr 21 at 8:32

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