Why is it that so many of us in politics cannot simply accept that someone agrees with us?
When we invaded Iraq thirteen years ago, I supported the war. In 2008, after five years and after re-examining my positions, re-examining the reasoning for my position, re-examining opposing arguments and considering that position in light of my own commitment to limited government, I came to the conclusion I was wrong. The Iraq was was a huge foreign policy blunder and I was wrong to support it. I have explained why I changed my position. Instead of going over that ground again I will link to my older writings:
When I wrote a letter to the editor criticizing President Obama for his policy in Syria a few years ago, this was one of the comments that was posted, and it is worth re-visiting to make an important point:
Maybe most don’t remember Tibbs was one of the loudest cheerleaders for the war in Iraq until people questioned why a person of his exaggerated belief in the mission wasn’t signing up to go. Then his tuned changed entirely.
Let’s get this out of the way. I was hearing the “chickenhawk” argument for five years before I changed my position. If the “chickenhawk” argument was the reason I changed my position, I would have flip-flopped in the summer of 2003 or sometime in 2004. I would not have waited until after people had been questioning for five years why I “wasn’t signing up to go.” Finally, there was absolutely no political benefit to me changing my position. If anything, this would be a roadblock to me running for office, especially in a Republican primary. In short, there is absolutely no logical or factual basis to accuse me of anything other than legitimately changing my position. This was a smear, and nothing more.
But there is a more important point to be made here and that is comments like the one quoted above represent what is wrong with politics. Instead of being happy that I have realized I was wrong and changed my position, the troll personally attacked me. You see, it is not enough that I was wrong. I was a heretic then and I am a heretic now on other matters, so the fact that I agree with the troll’s position does not matter.
Yes, hypocrisy is real. Yes, people do change their position because of political expediency – or worse, candidates articulate a position they do not believe purely to attack an incumbent. The challenger then adopts the incumbent’s policies when he takes office. But there are a number of people who legitimately change their positions on issues. We should not be so cynical to assume that every change is “hypocrisy” or driven by some nefarious motive. Because if that is the case, you can forget about Republicans and Democrats – or Left and Right generally – ever finding common ground and accomplishing something together.