Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Art of Flip-Flopping

Flip-flopping! We've heard all about it in the political world. It's a humorous word, a fun title to throw around. "Such and such is a flip-flopper." "Oh, he flip-flopped on such and such issue." In an era where politicians are more meticulous than ever to say the right thing, or better yet, not say the wrong thing, charges of flip-flopping arise both left and right. John Kerry was criticized as a flip-flopper back in the 2004 elections for his position(s) on the war in Iraq (or Afghanistan? Sorry... I get 'em mixed up sometimes...)

But I've noticed something particularly prevalent or noteworthy in the way in which Democrats and Republicans have flip-flopped. Let's take two textbook flip-floppers from both sides of the political spectrum. On the left, we've got war veteran John Kerry. On the right, we've got Olympics-saver (shudder) and apparent business mastermind (though he blew millions on his futile campaign) Mitt Romney, a.k.a. "Mittens" (© Rachel Maddow). As we're told, John Kerry flip-flopped on the war, arguably our generation's most trying and important decision. First completely for it, Kerry's support for the war began to dwindle, paralleling the sentiments felt by much of the American public. He soon took a stance against the war, blaming president bush (that's right, I don't capitalize his name) for deceiving the people of this country into a war that should have never been authorized in the first place. Kerry made a strategic mistake and was visibly sorry for his blunder. By most accounts, it was this apparent sign of weakness which led the country to once again support the man - who brought us into this senseless war in the first place - to a second term in the White House! What a shame! I've been grieving ever since...

On the other corner of the ring, we've got a guy like Mitt Romney who has flip-flopped on nearly every possible issue: from abortion and gay rights, to stem cell research and gun laws. You name it, Mitt Romney has disclosed varying opinions and beliefs on nearly every topic that's up for debate. What I've drawn from this is a distinct difference between the way(s) in which Democrats and Republicans flip-flop. While Kerry flipped on a strategic issue (the pressing urgency of the war), Mitt flipped on moral issues. (For more Romney flip-flops, check out

Examine the following scenario to understand where I'm coming from here: Suppose I were to tell you that such-and-such attacked our country and we were going to respond. You would probably support that, right? Pretty straightforward. Now what if I were to tell you (after some time, of course) that in fact the information I once disclosed to you was proven to be false. You would rethink the war strategy and further examine the reason(s) for initially preparing an attack on a country which now, with proper evidence, has been wiped clean of being the original "culprit." Inevitably, this would mean that you'd be backing down from your original position on the conflict. Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Not every one has the foresight to be able to determine from the get-go that the planning of the war was faulty and that there in fact was no need to initiate what would later on be seen as a violation of everything that this country stands for. Only few individuals and great leaders such as Barack Obama possess this powerful quality (one of the several reasons why I support him for his 2008 run for the White House).

Now in this demonstration, picture yourself being either pro or anti-gay rights, pro or anti-gun rights, whatever. Pick any social/moral issues you'd like and make a decision. Now imagine holding the opposing sides of all of those arguments. Pretty difficult, right? I mean, to me, it's a bit of a big deal if you can flip-flop on a moral issue over night, just like that. To me, it's resembles proof and a sign of a flimsy and unstructured moral compass: a recipe for disaster. But as we've seen, this is exactly what the Republicans are able to do with ease. For a Democrat, holding true to one's moral and ethical virtues is just that: a virtuous quality and an emblem of patriotism. To Republicans, morality has been proven to be purely debatable, interchangeable, and over all simply up in the air. Republican embarrassments like Mark Foley and Larry Craig are proof of the moral hypocrisy/ies which continue to spring forth from the GOP. These are the same people who praise Jesus with the same tongues used to bash gays or other victims of GOP mayhem. What would Jesus think of all of this? I posit that Jesus would show utmost love and outreach for our gay brothers and sisters rather than shunning them, and even worse: vilifying them! What would Jesus think about torture? What would Jesus think about the innocent Iraqi civilians who are raped and murdered daily in this global farce for "Democracy in the Middle East." The question is inevitable: What Would Jesus Do? Personally, I think he'd get down on his knees and weep for humanity.

This country's right-wing political ideology is possessed by the stranglehold of the religious right, many of whom are Evangelical Christians. These people preach the words of Jesus, yet apparently rarely seem to understand the great Jewish carpenter's basic principles. Jesus' Sermon of the Mount says: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Have Republicans EVER followed this advice? Perhaps. Perhaps only in the competitive and grueling dog-eat-dog world of business. I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that I've noticed the ease by which Republicans are able to completely flip on moral issues. I write this post only hours after John McCain flipped on one of the issues which I originally applauded him for. As Crooks & Liars recently pointed out/featured, John McCain, the poised candidate for the Republicans in November, is pandering to his base by falling back on all his previous opposition to torture. You know, this is the guy who was himself tortured during the war which proclaimed him a POW and national hero. Differing himself from other Republicans, here was a man who not only stood up for his moral belief that torture was not something America should subject itself to doing. Here was a man who actually EXPERIENCED torture for five years as a prisoner of war. Of all the topics which he could have possibly flip-flopped on, torture sure as hell shouldn't have been one of them. But the Republicans never cease to amaze us, huh? Torture, the brutish violation and abomination of human rights. Torture, which McCain was subjected to for five years of his life. Such a pressing and dire issue like torture is somehow STILL a position which can easily be thrown around.

Simply amazing... Am I the only one who sees it like this? I hope not. Kerry flip-flopped on the strategies and logistics of a war which was initiated by an administration which has lied to us for years. Republicans like Romney and McCain on the other hand, take folks like Kerry to task, yet feel free to jump all over the place over moral issues. If you ask me, that's completely illogical and doesn't add/stand up to a sliver of normalcy. When will they learn?