Today’s political discourse excoriates politicians who have ever changed their positions. True, someone who changes his tune according to his audience or the polls demonstrates a lack of principle. But it is a good thing to change positions and even principles when those have been demonstrated to be wrong. Mitt Romney was once pro-abortion, but he since changed his mind and became pro-life. Barack Obama exhibited the knee-jerk anti-war sentiments of his leftwing friends, but when he saw how the surge was working and learned a little about the progress being made in Iraq, he modified his position, however slightly. John McCain used to oppose off-shore drilling, but now, in response to the new oil prices and the evident need for more supplies, he is now for it. These changes might be dismissed as cynical flip-flops to gain votes–though since when is it a bad thing to follow the desires of voters?–but they may show a commendable seriousness of mind. One could argue that our current administration has been plagued with this stubborn inflexibility and indifference to facts.
A major problem today, going beyond politics, is that in our current climate of relativism and the rejection of reason, people are impervious to persuasion, no matter what the evidence or the reasoning is. Individuals form an idea based on arbitrary prejudice or self-interest, and it is impossible to get them to change their minds. This is not standing on principle, it’s rejecting objective truth.