Changing stances on issues should not disqualify political candidates

Published by adviser, Author: Joe Szalinski - Rocket Contributor, Date: April 14, 2016
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One major critique of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is her penchant for being “wishy-washy” with her stances. Now, this is problematic because she doesn’t seem to stick by anything. She seemingly takes topical and popular stances only when it most benefits her and her campaign, as well as replicates platforms of other candidates in hopes of stealing said candidate’s momentum.

However, this behavior has made a fair number of people demonize changing one’s mind. Certainly, we want candidates to display some sort of consistency in their views; Bernie Sanders is lauded for “sticking to his guns,” especially in regards to civil rights, but the ability to change one’s mind shows that one can develop as a person. This isn’t to say that any form of consistency is bad, but issues change, and once-celebrated stances can become regarded as ill-conceived as circumstances change and information is made known.

Think of a topic like same-sex marriage. It was once taboo to advocate, but has now become championed by almost every politician with a conscience. In such an instance, attitudes towards it changed, and anyone with any critical thinking ability reassessed the rhetoric.

Part of this thinking that posits that changing one’s mind is bad stems from the rampant scientific illiteracy plaguing our country. Science is dependent on constant analysis and study, and oftentimes, people change long-held views because the data no longer supports said views. It is significantly more important to be on the side of facts and data than tradition and ideas with “history and pedigree.” Most of the time, not all information is present initially, and it is incredibly ignorant of someone to form and defend such a defined position without waiting for more to be known, and later, assessed.

Our country is obsessed with tradition. Practicing and engaging in rituals and behaviors that have been practiced and engaged in for years (decades, centuries even) is at the heart of “being an American.” Not to mention that a large number of Americans are religious, and many religions tout largely unflinching positions and celebrate keeping tradition current by continuing to practice and engage in it.

Another reason why people tend to not change their minds is because of ego. Hardheaded people stick to certain ideas and stances for loyalty’s sake.

Instead of examining compelling arguments to get them thinking about a particular subject totally, they stand by firmly-held stance for conviction’s sake, because they feel as if it’s an injustice of some sort to accuse themselves of being wrong at some point in the past.

The long and short of it: consistency is good, provided one can give ample reasoning as to why he or she continues to take a particular stance. Otherwise, it is best to reexamine one’s beliefs constantly. A question that should be asked is why one believes or thinks the way one does. Considering and weighing all options is the smartest thing one can do.

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