Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ghosts of the Past

The belief that a change in views signals that the leader is either weak or has bad judgment is a huge mistake in our electoral process. Nowhere else is this true but in politics.

In a static world, sure, leaders could stick to one case without any problem. In the real world, however, a politician may support children eating asparagus one week, and then find out asparagus causes brain tumors the next.

If the public was rational, they could explain, "I had no idea that asparagus was dangerous. Before last week, there were only benefits", and they would understand. This is not the case, so politicians are forced to say things like, "As far as I can see, there is unsubstantial evidence in this asparagus controversy. I stand by my remarks and urge kids to eat more."

Could you imagine the types of problems this would bring up in normal life?

"You said you were going to take that art class. You must be a horrible person for deciding otherwise."

Despite the implications it may have for my political future by displaying my poor judgment, I rebuke my statement from years ago that Chumbawamba is "super awesome".


Jamie said...


As with most things, there's a happy medium. I agree that new evidence should allow a candidate to shift his/her stance on a subject without being labeled a "flip-flopper." However, I don't believe that polls constitute "new evidence."

I think the important thing is for a candidate to truly believe in something enough to weather unfavorable public opinion over it. If enough of the public agrees with the candidate's stance, he/she will be elected. If not, then either a) the candidate wasn't the right person for the job, or b) the "people" don't deserve the right person for the job. Either way, justice is done.

Of course, this stance requires a certain suspension of disbelief when considering the purity of a candidate's motives; one has to believe that the candidate is actually more concerned with what's in the best interest of the country over what's in their own best interest.

This is where it all falls apart...

Not This God said...

I agree with you on my asparagus analogy. I don't think a candidate should change their position because of a poll or new scientific finding, which are often later found to be untrue.

I do believe, however, that flexibility is an extremely important attribute in any person. Holding a fixed position and refusing to budge will not get you anywhere in life.

As an example, which holds no truth to any politician. Why shouldn't a candidate be allowed to have a comprehensive plan on sending a bunch of money over to Iraq to rebuild, then our economy goes south, and he decides to shift focus because he believes the economy is more important. If he was honest, he would abandon his previous Iraq plan, because there is only a limited amount of money.

I call that flexibility with changing circumstances. Politicians and the media call that bad judgment.

Jamie said...

I concur (as a way to avoid overusing "I agree"). I think the key is that the candidate should hold to what he truly believes, as opposed to what he thinks he should believe. The problems you refer to arise when a candidate consciously sacrifices truth in favor of a contradictory political stance. No good can come of that.