Saturday, October 16, 2004

Flip Flopping and the Lefties

Prior to the first debate, all pundits were full of praise for George Bush's ability to stay on message, constantly pounding the same point. Well he (and his surrogates) did that well, they constantly hammered the theme that Kerry was a flip flopper, a man on both sides of every issue, a man who would say anything to get elected. Now the monicure is that Kerry is a liberal, a man who is out of the mainstream, a man on the extreme left bank of the political spectrum, a man who consistently votes on the left, a staunch leftist. In essence a man who does not flip flop, he sticks to the left bank, so much so, that Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Taxachussets. As Mark Shields, pointed on the News Hour last night, this is a major flip flop on the part of the Bush team. They beat the Kerry Flip Flop theme to death, so much so that the folks were getting jaded, and saw the label for what it is, nothing but an empty phrase, devoid of any substance and could be construed (as I have) as a positive attribute.

After hearing the Flip Flop slogan for the umpteenth time in my class, from staunch republicans, I begun to realise something, it is not that he is a Flip Flopper, it is that he is intellectually honest. When Kerry is given information that calls into question his previous assumptions, he reassess his conclusions and if necessary, changes his previous conclusion. This is not necessarily a bad quality. I like people who will not stubbornly hold on to theories and conclusions that have been proven wrong. It is just not right. As a college student, I have learnt that at times my conclusions will be wrong and I should be open to criticism, I should then look at the critique, see if it is valid, test it and draw a conclusion: whether to stick with my previous assessment or to accept the new theory. It is what a rational and intellectually honest individual would do.

Now the Bush team has seen that the Flip Flop tag aint working so well, they are now focusing on the Liberal thing. Well this does have some truth to it and they are playing to peoples dislike for the label Liberal (much like people avoded "Conservative" in the 60's). However, I think Kerry can do a couple of things to diminsh the effects of the tag. Remember a Liberal was in office when the budget was balanced, a liberal was in office when a budget surplus was in place, a liberal was in place when the eceonmy created a couple million new jobs. A fiscal conservative was in office when the government debt rose by $1.6 trillion, a fiscal conservatives were in office when the largest deficits endured, a fiscal conservative turned a budget surplus into the largest budget deficit in history. Based on this, you would do better with a liberal in office.

It is quite unfortunate that labels work in this political environment. A politician can simply pound a slogan painting his opponent in a negative light and get away with it, even if it is wrong and intellectually dishonest. If the electorate looked beyond the labels, they would be able to make better assessments of the candidates.


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