Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flipping Season

Here in New England the sun has reappeared and buds are bringing life to grounds. As I walk around my neighborhood I smell bar-b-que’s firing up for the season. Slippers around the house have been replaced with flip-flops for the season. Summer’s coming! It’s also the season of flip flopping in politics. This year’s contest has the biggest whopper I’ve ever seen.

The ordinary definition is when a candidate changes position --- and while that’s always an amusing thing to look at, I have a pretty high tolerance for people who change their mind. To me it can show signs of an inquisitive nature, an ability to adapt and an openness to compromise. Yet there are limits. On matters of core principals, I think it’s hard to move from one stance to another without a powerful narrative.

Mitt Romney is one of the biggest flip floppers and there’s an entire site devoted to it (with references). See when Mitt was pro-choice and then became pro-life. On nearly every issue he pivoted. Many are nuanced, but some are significant.

It’s not party specific. Wikipedia reports about then Presidential Candidate John Kerry “Famously, on March 16, 2004, during an appearance at Marshall University Kerry tried to explain his vote for an $87 billion supplemental appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by telling the crowd, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it." ”

Name a candidate from any party and there’s a list of inconsistencies. It’s not unique to one or the other.

Donald J. Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Grand Old Party. This is a party that in my lifetime has carved out its role in society: conservative socially, lower taxes, less regulation, etc. They outline their beliefs: “Solutions to help create jobs, build a healthy economy, and lead to greater freedom and opportunity. Solutions that help everyone get ahead and achieve a better life. Solutions that empower all Americans – no matter who you are or where you come from – because government should not limit where you finish because of where you started. That’s what House Republicans advance every single day.”

The GOP mantra has manifested itself over the past eight years especially as much Anti-Obama as pro-GOP. Their standard bearer, Trump, however doesn’t align with many of the policies that the party stands for. The Washington Post reported extensively on his fluid stances on issues.

When Mr. Trump went to Washington May 12 and the Republicans went wild for him. Even John McCain has said they're going to support him (though Trump said McCain wasn’t a hero because he was caught and held as a prisoner.) House Speaker Paul Ryan (VP Candidate to Romney in 2012) tried to cool the enthusiasm, by saying he needed to see where the standard bearer lined up on key conservative issues. That’s smart but he is in the minority.

Everybody else flipped. They have endorsed this candidate who doesn’t align with their stated beliefs. Hilary Clinton lines up on foreign policy more closely to most Republicans than she does to progressive Democrats. They have put party over principal. And that’s the biggest flip of all this election season.