Viewpoint 11/28: Flip-flopping isn't always bad

During the 2008 presidential campaign and several times since then, John McCain has maintained he has never changed his opinion on anything. In 2008, in an attempt to separate himself from the rest of the Republican presidential candidates, McCain proudly said, “Look, I have never changed any of my positions.” He has reaffirmed his rock-solid stances over and over since.

Now, McCain has been amid the political scene for a long time. Has he really not learned a single thing that has budged his stance — not even a teensy-weensy bit — on anything? Did he figure out exactly the right positions and opinions 30 years ago? Do you agree with everything you thought 30 (perhaps you weren’t even alive), 20, 10 — even five — years ago?

With the passage of time, humans change their minds and opinions according to what they learn and experience. That’s simply growing and maturing. Most likely, over a short period of time, consistency of ideas is the norm. However, to have the exact same beliefs and opinions over an extended period of time certainly indicates the weakness of a closed mind.

How likely is it one hasn’t learned or experienced something new that might readjust one’s beliefs? Really, not likely at all. What if a politician who wishes to maintain that “no change” attitude simply dismisses acquired intelligence or other information to stay aligned with that attitude? What a non-qualified leader to be at the helm of the United States of America.

A presidential candidate has come under a lot of fire throughout his bids for president for changing his opinions on some issues. Of course, this candidate is Mitt Romney.

Romney has been criticized and attacked on this front. Several of his fellow candidates have been all too happy to point out this so-called “flaw.” Other political analysts claim Romney is not a “true conservative.” After all, how could a true conservative have been elected as the governor of Massachusetts?

Sometimes, through twisted logic, wannabe or current politicians affirm they haven’t changed their stances. A true, honest politician is one that defends his or her position offensively. Perhaps, while looking directly into the camera, he or she might say, “Yes, I have changed my position. I was mistaken, and I see that this is a better way. And I promise you that I will always change my position when necessary. I will not stubbornly cling to my opinions or positions for pride or political points when I see that there is a better course for the country.”

Too optimistic? Well, sadly, yes, it is. We wouldn’t count on such a stride in the political arena, unfortunately.

Earlier this year, in September, Romney said, “In the private sector, if you don’t change your view when the facts change, well, you’ll get fired for being stubborn and stupid. Winston Churchill said, ‘When the facts change, I change too, Madam.’ What do you do?”

In an ongoing debate, some say that Romney misattributed the alleged Churchill quote, and that John Maynard Keynes deserves credit. But, regardless of the quote’s owner, life is truly full of change. An unwillingness to recognize that change will lead to an inability to adapt to the change. Those who don’t or won’t adapt are left behind.

As more and more information is collected and presented to our elected officials, we hope our leaders can change policy and law to accommodate that change in an effort to best serve America and its citizens.