A lot of the coverage and hilarity surrounding Mitt Romney has been concerned with his incessant “flip flopping”. Romney, it seems, has taken both sides of almost every issue that will surface in this electoral cycle. However, we must not let this clown tar rational decision-making. A distinction must be drawn between shameless pandering and the justified changing of ones mind because of new developments. The former is laughable. The latter is laudable.
The problem with Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping is that there have not been any significant developments in many of the fields. Have there been any serious developments in the field of Gay Rights since Romney “ran to the left of Ted Kennedy”? How about Abortion? Gun Control? Or, most prominently, have there been any developments to turn Romney off his signature healthcare legislation? The answer, is of course no. There is no justification for such rapid and radical changes in opinion. Mormons have not turned up any more golden plates that have doubled down on their condemnation of Homosexuality or Abortion. The figures that have been bandied about since the Aurora shooting show that Gun violence has gotten worse and more action is needed. (Something similar to what Romney presided over in Massachusetts maybe?) And, “Romneycare” has been a remarkable success, which, of course, is why Obama copied it in the first place. There is no justification for Romney changing his mind on these issues. What’s more, Romney offers no justification for changing his mind on these issues, and that is if the change is acknowledged at all. Romney has flip-flopped for political expediency, not as a result of rational thought. This type of action is rightly condemned.
However, Romney’s actions should not put people, especially politicians, off changing their minds when the situation necessitates. This aversion to change has led to the kind of thinking that condemns and dismisses all climate science simply because of the name change from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”. No. There is no such thing as a perfect and unalterable idea or proposition. The concept of changing or dismissing a bad idea is precisely what has allowed science to take us so far. Human ventures, especially those like Governance that deal with an ever-changing world must be free to change with circumstance, not rooted in dogma. When new studies or information arises, we must react to it. Our politicians should be constantly open to new ideas and developments. We need flexibility in order to compete in this hyper-connected world. Our thinking must be fluid. However, there needs to be justification for these changes and evolutions.
Romney’s flip flopping is bad because it is unfounded and purely politically motivated. It shows a lack of spine. It reveals him as someone willing to do anything to please his base. But let’s not let him scare our politicians into complacency. When done for legitimate reasons, changing ones opinions and positions is a good thing. It is how society advances. Yes, flip-flopping is bad. But changing ones mind isn’t.