The 2020 Election And Our Refusal To Let Politicians Change

The 2020 election has put on display one of the greatest things holding us back: our inability to let politicians change their views.

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Let’s talk about 2020.

On the Democratic side, the election is already in full swing, with over 20 candidates vying for the party’s nomination. The race has been going for a few months, and has created a lot of drama, particularly surrounding the question of progressiveness.

“Progressives” have existed within the Democratic Party for a long time, but they were always much more of an underground group — at least, until 2016. It was then that Bernie Sanders ran for President, and his candidacy managed to bring a lot of their ideas into the party’s mainstream.

Now, in 2020, nearly all of the candidates in the Democratic field are labeling themselves as progressives, opening the door for the progressive gatekeepers.

They’ll come along and point out how Kamala Harris changed stances on the death penalty, or Kirsten Gillibrand voted conservatively a few times, and therefore they will never be “true progressives”.

Now, this represents a couple of problems within the Democratic Party. The first is that we seem to think there’s one definition of what a “progressive” is, and we are entitled to decide that definition. The second, which is more pressing, is that we’re holding politicians to an impossible standard when it comes to consistency.

One of the central values we have when it comes to politics is consistency — we want all of our politicians to on platforms, and to be working to achieve what we want. If a politician ever changes their mind on an issue, we see that as hypocrisy, or betrayal.

While it is reasonable to expect a degree of consistency from our representatives, it is unrealistic to expect them to never change.

Every person you talk to has changed their mind on something at some point. While they used to think one way, evidence was presented that contradicted their position and made them reconsider.

In most circumstances, this is celebrated. Open mindedness is a necessary value for growing as a person, but for some reason, we don’t afford that right to our politicians.

The best solution to any issue is usually found after considerable deliberation. Arguments and evidence from all sides are heard and weighed, and then they combine to create the optimum solution, but only after everyone has changed and developed their positions.

The same should apply to politics considering how important it is. What our politicians do affects all of us, and it’s important it’s done right. If it’s not, there can be catastrophic consequences.

Unfortunately, we tie the identities of politicians to their political positions. This forces them to be completely adamant in their stances, where it’s either their way or no way.

While this is good PR, it isn’t a productive method of governance.

We constantly decry Washington for its gridlock and ineffectiveness, but if we’re being honest, we’re the cause. We bang our fists whenever our politicians give in even an inch, because we want them to speak for us, even when it isn’t in the best interests of the country.

We need to stop treating negotiation, open mindedness and compromise like surrender, instead letting politicians work with each other.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t hold politicians accountable, though. When deciding who to vote for in 2020, you should certainly consider the records of Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, and everyone else running, as their past actions are the best determinant of their future actions.

We’re taking it too far though, which is what’s problematic. We need to consider every politician’s past, but we shouldn’t make them a slave to it — after all, they’re human just like us, and we shouldn’t hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

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Jonah Woolley

Jonah Woolley

Angry opinions from an angry writer on an inconsistent basis.

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