In Defense of the Flip-Flopper and Compromise

Does changing your mind - like Mitt Romney and other politicians have done - mean you lack the courage of your convictions?


Romney on abortion. Obama on same sex marriage. George W. Bush on taxes. And right here at home: Lieberman on health care, and Dodd on AIG bonuses. 

All together, now: Flip-floppers!

But I am here to advance the notion that there are two kinds of flip-flopping. The first—the worst sort—is pandering and is the worst form of power-grabbing.

The second is not only better; it’s preferable to a lifetime of unyielding, dogmatic stubbornness. And when a turn from dogma means compromise and progress for all, then I say, flip-flop away.

And while every politician would have the voting public believe that every flip-flop is the result of a newly-formed principled stand, we know better, don’t we? Do you really believe that Mitt Romney is pro-life, or do you think he changed his tune to appeal to a large and vocal social conservative faction to secure the presidential nomination?

And did President Obama not conveniently change his views on marriage in a timely fashion (thanks, Vice President Biden!), thus securing the vocal support of the social liberals who really have no choice but to support his candidacy anyway?

Yet there are undoubtedly principled flip-flops. One must certainly suspect that Obama, who promised to close the Guantanamo prison camp after taking office, discovered exactly why he couldn’t once he did. Funny how Guantanamo as an issue all but disappeared once February 2009 rolled around.

But we must applaud that decision, no? Clearly Obama discovered why shutting Guantanamo would be a huge mistake. For that, he deserves credit.

Imagine a world in which no one ever changed their mind or admitted they were wrong. Do you hold the same views today as you did 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago? Is not acknowledging that the other side maybe, just maybe, has a point the lifeblood of compromise? And do we not, as a nation, need bipartisan compromise desperately?

This past Sunday evening, I watched with interest as Mitt Romney spoke with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes. Romney appeared relaxed, confident and quite presidential (although a bit orange, truth be told, but perhaps that was just my television) as he described his policy plans should he win in November.  

Pelley pressed him on his economic policies, repeating the oft-heard criticism that Romney had not offered any specifics on how he planned to achieve sustainable economic growth. The devil’s in the details, said he.

Romney smiled and noted the country’s need, not just a desire, for a workable bipartisan plan. I paraphrase here, but the gist is that he would not approach Democrats with a preordained list of must-haves; instead, he would develop his policy together with the Democrats so that everyone can leave the deal table feeling like they contributed.

Real leadership—and ultimately, progress—means working together, he finished.


As I imagine what the next four years under President Obama would look like if he wins the election, I can’t help but shudder. Gridlock, higher taxes, stubborn rhetoric from both sides and, ultimately, little accomplished.

Governor Romney observed that while he led Massachusetts he worked with a vast Democratic majority (87 percent!) in an overwhelmingly liberal state. Yet under his leadership, the Massachusetts economy improved, largely as a result of increased revenues (fees, not taxes) and reduced state aid.

All together, now: Compromise.

Nick Boccuzzi September 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM
An "obligation", Brian? Who's to dictate that we must redistribute wealth throughout the country because there are people in need? Yes, that sounds morally correct, but at the same time, look at it from the other perspective. There are those who have earned their wealth by taking risks, hard work, and/or luck. They did it legally, paying their dues through ever-growing taxes, but you're going to tell them that they haven't paid their fair share? That there are people out there living on the public dole who deserve a piece of their hard earned money? Tell me something, who are you to say this? Why do you care what another man (or woman) does with their money so long as it doesn't inherently impact you? I'm not saying get rid of taxes; no, there are obviously vital pieces of our society that need funding such as national security, but to point your finger and designate that because YOU want to help others, everyone else has to: that's not right. As for global warming, I agree that exists, but I don't agree with the direction the government is taking in establishing alternatives to fossil fueled products. Yes, wind energy/solar power is great, but to refrain from utilizing our own country's resources thus leaving American citizens subject to price abuse by virtue of foreign imports: that's the wrong way to go about it. A slow and steady transition to alternatives is the way to go, and in the meantime, let's use the resources America still has.
S Tadik September 26, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I am a moderate who believes in advancing the general welfare of the citizens of the US but I am a realist who believes that Government screws up almost everything it touches, with SOME exceptions. Your first-paragraph comments give me things to think about. As for the resources of the US, your position of a slow and steady transition makes sense to me. However, the companies who have leased shale gas properties may want to export what we produce as quickly as possible when we could use it in the US to guarantee our long-term energy independence. There is no easy answer and some sort of compromise is necessary. Maybe it's O.K. to prosper but not O.K. to give away our golden goose.
Nick Boccuzzi September 26, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I'm glad I gave you some things to ponder about, Tadik. I'm personally I conservative libertarian, and while I disagree with many social issues on the right, I believe in the conservative take on economics. Small government intervention in the economy is (and always will be) best.
Will Wilkin September 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Here's where we need flip-flopping: 1) Free Trade Policy: Replace it with a MADE IN USA TRADE POLICY, aimed at achieving BALANCED TRADE using INDUSTRIAL POLICY to on-shore those industries key to prosperity in the 21st century. 2) (a) $1Trillion/year Defense Spending: Replace it with a 20-year downsizing plan to divert that money to infrastructure and education. 2 (b) 800-1000 US military bases on foreign soil: Systematic withdrawal of US forces to a much reduced core set of bases. Replace militarist diplomacy with projects of international cooperation (ex: Space Station/Mars exploration; environmental clean-up) and peace-making in the Middle East. 3) Renewed commitment to Social Security and creation of a National Health Insurance for all US citizens. Fixing SS requires eliminating the $110,000 income cap on SS tax, and the rest could easily be paid for with a small financial transactions tax (say 0.25%) on all short-term stock buying and selling and other financial speculation. 4) Replace mass unemployment with a Full Employment Policy and a Living Minimum Wage to democratize the prosperity created by the above 3 steps. Both parties have been captured by the wealthy who have staked their fate with the global corporations rather than with the people of the United States. The "election" is a referendum on gay marriage and insurance coverage of contraception as both parties are in lockstep taking the country over the cliff for Wall Street and the Pentagon.
MAC September 28, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Obama, unrestrained by another election, would double down on his disastrous and FAILED "leadership" of our once great nation, turning it into a DYSTOPIA which we will not recognize as anything resembling the FREE nation we grew up in! Those with common sense will be voting for Romney/Ryan, "America's Comeback Team," so that we can have some REAL "hope" for our futures! Unfortunately, Obama has no respect for the Constitution, the "Separation of Powers" etc., and instead is totally committed to his misguided zero-sum ideology of DIMINISHING U.S. prosperity because he believes America must become poorer in order for people in third world nations to do better. His first term economic devastation may become minor compared to the havoc and "Dystopia" an unrestrained Obama will wreak through his un-Constitutional Executive Orders and the bureaucratic "Regulations" with which he ^^steals our Liberties^^, such as in the "HealthCare Mandate" imposed by K. Sebelius. And all that could be dwarfed by the takeover from within, by Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim Terrorists who Obama has welcomed into the WH, while he will not allow our military and Nat'l Security agencies to even name these THREATS as what they are!!! To understand how Obama is totally FAILING to protect our nation, his most basic responsibility, watch "The Project" documentary on TheBlaze.com/tv. Free 2 wk. trial avail. and you can watch on demand.


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