Or, Why Are We Such Doctrinaire Idiots About Changing Positions?
What is with the remarkable obsession everyone, particularly political junkies and punky pundits, seems to have regarding altering political positions or "flip flopping" as it is derogatorily known in the popular parlance? The question should not be whether a politician has changed position, but what exactly is his or her new position and why did he or she change.
It is not as if Moses brought down our political positions carved on stone tablets. We were not born with political positions. They evolve over time for almost everyone, normally slowly, albeit occasionally fast as when wars and personal frights warp judgments sometimes overnight. Normally, such evolution and change is a good thing (so long as it is not hormonal or adrenalin driven). Change usually demonstrates the person is a mentally healthy, intelligent adult, one showing the ability to adapt to new evidence and information as it is revealed.
In fact, never changing positions is the mark of either a liar or someone likely anal retentive, mentally deficient and unable to properly evaluate changing circumstances. By the same token, constantly changing positions from day to day suggests a frightened individual, incapable of making a decision even when needed, an equally scary person to put in office. Both are symptoms of mental illness of one degree or another, certainly not someone to elect.
But, considered change based upon carefully considered information to the extent then available is not automatically to be condemned. That is the essence of the Scientific Method that has served us so well most of the time.
Of course, if the person cravenly changed positions just to curry favor with a particular group of voters, that demonstrates someone not to be trusted. That is the moral equivalent of lying to everyone.
Consequently, suppose a candidate has proclaimed in the past that, say, the leader of a specific religious group is a biased lunatic who spouts hatred against others. Yet now, the same candidate embraces the same religious leader. Is there anything to support the theory that such hatred is no longer being broadcast by that religious leader? If so, good for everyone and the “flip flop” is a good thing. We should reward conversions when someone comes to their senses. Conversely however, if there is nothing to suggest the religious leader is doing anything different to merit the embrace, then the switch by the politician is suspicious and deserves condemnation. Not for the fact he flipped, but for his purpose in doing so.
We need the full facts, something the media steadfastly fails to deliver with the 30 second sound bites that pass for reporting “news” these days. We need more than just the fact that a supposed “flip flop” has occurred. What and why are more important.
For instance, I, for one, am willing to change my disgusted and low opinion about most so-called “journalists.” If only they would give me a reason. Please give me a reason. They can start with stop reporting so-called flip flops unless they give more information to go with it.