So politics are all the vibe right now, and one of the people that I haven not discussed at all is Hillary Clinton. Now, I have done quite a bit of work to reserve my judgments of Hillary because people have been so critical of her already, despite the fact that she has done quite a bit of work for the country that has resulted in positive gains. I mean, we certainly could do quite a bit worse (see 2001-2008 for more information). What I would like to discus though is that Hillary is most starkly criticized for her “flip-flops” on positions. The fact of the matter is that on numerous occasions, Hillary’s position has changed. First gay marriage was bad, now it’s good. First the Keystone Pipeline is good, now it’s bad. The list is quite long. The reality is that there are positive and negative aspects to switching positions.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the bad (because it’s so much easier to get the juices flowing by scapegoating someone). From a broad perspective, the changes in opinions create an inconsistency in ideals. It makes a person look like they will sell out for personal gains—there’s no moral solidity to their character. This is something that Donald Trump has gotten quite a bit of criticism for at the hands of John Oliver. Nobody knows if he’ll be the moderate Donald or the Donald that hesitates to disavow the KKK. It’s unpredictable, and opens the door to bad situations. At least with someone like Ted Cruz he sticks to what he says pretty strongly—no matter who it may offend. This kind of solidity is what people look for in a leader, which is effectively what the president is. The same goes for Bernie Sanders—his supporters have done a good job emphasizing how he has been on the right side of history at every turning point.
The second aspect of how changing positions is negative is that it makes a person out as manipulative. To manipulate someone, a person has to be able to spin things in a light that makes them look good. For whatever reason, Americans deeply hate the idea of having a manipulative leader (probably somewhat related to how Nixon was the greatest offender in this area in recent history). Ironic, since we then expect our president to manipulate the leaders of other countries in a fashion that favors us. Either way, changing sides at crucial election points, regardless of it was the right side to switch to, makes it look fake. SNL’s skit to display Hillary’s shift toward Bernie Sander’s progressive agenda by slowly morphing her speech and image to how Sander’s speaks pulls this to the forefront, but in a comedic way.
Of course, to some extent, this is a pathos-based reaction in order to demonize a person. Changing positions is a good thing to have the capacity for. Certainly, it is better to have always been on the right side of history. My ideal candidate on racial issues is always going to be the candidate that marched for Civil Rights than the one that opposed them. At the same time, I would take a racist that was willing to set aside their personal squabbles with other races in order to promote civil liberty for all. Even if Hillary has continued to believe that marriage is supposed to be a sacred commitment between a man and a woman in her private life, her willingness to accept gay marriage as something that people should be open to displays an open-mindedness to the ideas of others in political affairs.
Her willingness to change positions also exemplifies the willingness to compromise, something that the GOP seems to hold as a completely unacceptable alternative. Which is obscene. Nobody working in politics should sideline the ideas of others—nothing gets solved if that happens. Certainly, it is completely acceptable to disagree with a person, but to not even give them a hearing is not only disrespectful, it is negligent and elitist. There’s going to be a conflict of interest in politics—it’s Congress’s job to resolve these issues, not hold the government hostage until the opposition gives in—that’s a base form of terrorism. Hillary’s willingness to at least work things out and suspend her personal beliefs for the greater good of both America and the world is blatantly better than someone whose two options are “my way or the highway.” Personally, I think anyone incapable of an objective view in a multi-personal issue needs to hit the road themselves. They have disconnected themselves from the logos pillar entirely. Which is unacceptable for a good leader to do, because to understand and connect several trains of thought requires the ability to logically work out the differences in ideas between each station.