The Right to Change One’s Mind

In the mainstream political discourse, changing one’s mind is seen as anathema.  Someone who changes their mind “waffles” or “flip-flops” or “voted against it before they were for it” and so on and so forth.  You hear this brought up in attack ads and punditry shows, as if the person who changes their mind were some sort of unprincipled, pandering, possibly-insane pudding-brain.  And it makes me wonder, since when did changing one’s mind become the root of all evil?

Rational people should be allowed to let their positions on important issues evolve over time, as they are exposed to new ideas and new facts, as they grow up and gain experience and insight, as they have time to reflect, and as the circumstances around them change.  For example, President Obama recently “came out” in favor of gay marriage.  He was against it before he was for it.  Yet I don’t think this makes him a “flip-flopper.”  I think this simply demonstrates that, in spite of his Wall Street-friendly policies, he is basically a rational person.

I would like to see more acceptance, both in the media and in political discourse in general, of people who change their minds.  We should not be held to the opinions we voiced two decades ago.  If we still believe the same things then great, we’re consistent.  But if we change our minds, then that does not necessarily indicate that we are wishy-washy or that we have no convictions.

It just might mean that we are capable of learning something.

I don’t see how that’s such a bad thing.

About Jesse S. Smith

I’m just a regular guy who happens to have had a lot of interesting experiences. I believe in self-improvement, both for the individual and for society as a whole. I’m subject to strong opinions, but I’m trying to learn to be less confrontational about the way I present them.

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