Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why, again, is "flip-flopping" bad?

I'm listening to Randi Rhodes interview George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee for President, and he threw out an excellent sound bite. Discussing the moronic assertion that Kerry, or any politician for that matter, is somehow less qualified to be in public service simply due to changing positions on issues, McGovern offered that this instead demonstrated a positive trait.

"I'm wiser today than I was yesterday" is the statement McGovern says Kerry and others are making when they choose to change a stance on an issue. I must agree, and in fact, this is what I have been arguing for years.

Dynamic, not static, is our world.

Conditions change within every community and across every continent.

Governments topple, others spring out of chaos.

Economies boom and bust.

Violence dominates the world stage, only to be forgotten by the rise of new violence elsewhere.

Alliances, allegiances, investments, and casual relationships respond in kind by redistributing the balance of power and wealth, much like traditional free-marketers argue as explaining the flow of the economy.

Changing positions on issues is not only normal, it should be demanded of our politicians. Our leaders cannot accurately address national and international problems by choosing one position and attempting to change the responses from the rest of the world. There must be a significant degree of "market adjustment" which sometimes creates contrasting or contradictory stances when viewed over a period of time.

Why again is this bad? By a liberal definition, it is not. Clearly, however, the conservatives consider this, at least in theory, to be a sign of weak leadership. What else can be expected from a group of people who back the "status quo" which, according to Webster's, means "Latin: state in which: the existing state of affairs".

Which, being purely theoretical, requires that establishing any semblance of said status quo must define a finite point in time for which a base can be identified. Naturally, once the position is chosen, according to neo-conservative dogma, it must be violently defended against the friction of changing conditions in the world. This leaves the decision makers spending a lot of time fighting against the impact of numerous inevitable changes instead of shoring up the values which are most important. We are seeing the extreme consequences of just such a policy adopted by the current White House.

Choosing a position on issues requires more than an initial glimpse at the conditions. It requires vigilance to change, feedback from current efforts and policies, and a system of strategic planning that constantly assesses the situation and offers direction in achieving goals. Just like any good corporate marketer, the President and all public servants must be willing to implement the advice of proactive, intelligent, and responsible planners, knowing full well that any stance may be altered should conditions demand it.

It is no wonder that Bush is such a bad President. Look at his track record at Arbusto, Harken, etc...I'm sure he and his fellow executives got loads of great strategic advice during the course of business, but chose instead to follow a "status quo" approach. By believing that establishing an inflexible position beats creating a flexible one, Bush consistently fails to analyze the world "market" in a way that "profits" America.

It is certainly time for the stockholders to vote in a new CEO President.

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