I’d much rather have a politician that changes his/her mind (based on sound reason and evidence) over one that always sticks to the same positions. Public political discourse punishes politicians that change their positions over time. Instead, we should applaud.
I don’t want a representative/leader to state his or her position on an issue and stick to that no matter what. I do want a representative/leader that critically considers positions and changes or adapts depending on the evidence available, the arguments presented, and the needs of the populace.
To be fair, a lot of our politicians do in fact change their stances on different issues over time. Unfortunately, whenever they do this they get skewered by the press and by other political parties for flip-flopping on the issues. But changing one’s stance is not a bad thing! If I witnessed a politician during a debate stop and reflect for a moment on something one of his or her peers was arguing, and then say “Thank you for raising that point, it made me think of this issue in a different way.” I’d award that politician bonus points for the ability to both think critically and to be forthright with the public.
I’d like to see that the people we elect can engage in self-reflection and change their thinking or beliefs when it makes sense. I don’t want people that are blind to the world around them, ignore the merit of alternate perspectives, or are inflexible to improvement.
I don’t hold all of the same perspectives now that I did twenty years ago, some have changed completely, some have been reinforced. That’s because I’m a growing, changing person as are our politicians (I hope). A politician that does not grow and change, should not be in public office. A lack of growth, introspection, and willingness to change signals a severe flaw in his or her thinking abilities.
It’s no good having people cemented into specific positions on specific issues, which unfortunately is all we hear about in the press and during election debates. Specific issues, specific issues, specific issues: What’s your stance on this issue? Here’s a list of what the parties will do on each issue. Etc. Fine, let’s hear it but that’s not the most important thing. Those issues constantly change, the dynamics of our world constantly change. We need to see people that demonstrate an ability to think and approach each situation with wisdom and consideration. Show me how and why you flip-flop.