I try very hard to teach my children that it is ok and even anticipated that they make mistakes. As human beings cursed with our own free will, we are expected to err with the understanding that those errors will teach us something and help us to evolve into better versions of ourselves. We must acknowledge and admit to our mistakes, reflect on what should have been done differently, and implement what we've learned in future decisions. Refusing to do so will lead to an inevitable, detrimental, and irreversible snowball effect. Yet I can't let my children watch the news, not because of the violence and risk of nightmares, but because I worry that the example that politicians are setting and pundits are echoing and thriving on will surely unravel all of my hard parenting work. How can I explain my policies of playing fair, sharing, no name calling, no hitting, and no lying if my children are watching these elected leaders of our nation break every one of these rules? I would surely come off as quite the hypocrite.
The term "flip flopping" is a prime example of such hypocrisy. Having the courage and wisdom to learn and evolve, to make our parents proud has been given this disparaging title, while the stubborn and close minded refusal to admit to and learn from our mistakes has become common practice in politics. Flip-flopping has become the Republican slang for notions such as learning, reasoning, logic and common sense. They use it to defend their position on never admitting to making a mistake. No matter how badly their plans may go awry, or how destructive their actions may be to our nation, the single most important thing is to stand by their close minded beliefs and devastating reflex reactions because anything else means admitted defeat and bruised egos.
Barak Obama has so far been accused of "flip flopping" on campaign finance and his stance on Iraq. First, he decided it would not be in the best interest of our country to spend $85 million of taxpayer dollars on his campaign when, in fact, he doesn't need it anyway. Surely, he knows, there are much better ways to spend that money and he will find those ways when he is elected President. But he is flip flopping because while before he believed he would need it to help convince us to elect him and to defend himself against the expensive Republican attacks, he has now LEARNED that he can count solely on his many supportive believers. We believe in his notion of giving this country back to US and I, for one, appreciate his decision to save US that $85 million. "Waste not, want not", my father always said.
So what is the problem? Is it that it makes John McCain look bad because he has to take this money since his believers aren't quite so supportive? Nothing could make him look worse than standing side by side and arm in arm with George Bush as he throws all of his support behind McCain. It is an attempt to move towards that campaign finance reform everyone is always talking about but never acting on. But they say "he went back on his word." I think most of us would agree that those words are not worth $85 million tax dollars. The fact that he had the reasoning and sense to do it in the face of certain attacks is priceless.
Obama is now "flip flopping" on Iraq. He agreed with the Republicans that he should visit Iraq and get an idea of what is going on there before continuing his vow to end the war within 16 months of his term. He acknowledged that circumstances are probably bad beyond his comprehension (this snowball has grown into a full blown avalanche). He also, using reasoning and logic, suggests that any pre-conceived ideas and plans for ending the war will be refined accordingly. This resonates what he has been saying all along "we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in."
In a response to this latest attack, Obama defended his consistency saying that he does not intend to lead and act on the basis of pre-conceived notions as the current administration has done, adding, "One of the things I've always tried to do is learn from mistakes and try to get better". This is exactly the notion that Republicans cannot seem to grasp. They insist that the idea that this young, inexperienced kid "flip-flops" on his stance on issues is a serious, even dangerous character flaw. This is how they got John Kerry. Kerry was a flip-flopper because he had the common sense to admit that yes, he did vote in support of the war, but soon realized, as most of us did, that this war was a terrible mistake and we must figure out how to end it as soon as possible.
Yes Obama is inexperienced, but this is part of what many find so appealing about him. His lack of political experience affords him his logic, reasoning and common sense. He still values those early lessons his strong, single mother and loving grandparents instilled in him. These things are an anomaly in politics these days and, particularly on the Right, are not welcomed.
I pray that our nation survives the un-confessed mistakes of our leaders. And I pray that my children
(and I) survive their own certain mistakes and missteps. I intend to make certain, however, that my children are honest, accept responsibility for their actions and learn from them so as not to repeat them. And I will never accuse them of "flip-flopping" when they do.