When someone changes stances on an issue, it usually indicates one of two things: either they’re humble enough to admit they’ve been wrong, or their opinions are guided by something other than an interest in ethical integrity.
Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping on social issues suggests the needle in his moral compass doesn’t trend north but rather tilts toward whichever position is politically expedient.
While flip-flopping isn’t a new political phenomenon, in Romney’s case, the degree to which he’s changed his mind should raise eyebrows.
Earlier in his political career, Romney was by most accounts a moderate Republican. He was fiscally conservative but seemed comfortable rejecting the socially regressive ideologies of the radical right.
In fact, during his 1994 senate campaign, Romney trumpeted an approach to LGBT rights that sounds like it could have been lifted directly from the pages of the Obama campaign’s current rhetorical playbook.
“If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” Romney said in a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, a LGBT advocacy group.
He went on to say he favored gays and lesbians being able to serve openly in the military. This past iteration of Romney stands in stark contrast to today’s model, which says he thinks gay and lesbian soldiers’ right to self-expression should have remained muzzled until after wartime under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Romney, who never claimed to support gay marriage, also now doesn’t even support civil unions that are “identical to marriage.”
When it comes to issues affecting the LGBT community, it seems Romney aligns himself with whichever position garners him the most support.
Romney also equivocates on women’s issues. While running for governor of Massachusetts, Romney stated he was pro-choice and that, if elected, he wouldn’t stifle a woman’s right to choose. Today’s Romney says Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, should be overturned. Instead, he insists state legislatures should decide whether women have a right to safe and legal abortions.
While serving as governor, Romney required hospitals to allow rape victims access to the morning-after pill, including hospitals run by religious groups. Now, Romney criticizes the Obama administration for effectively doing the same thing, calling Obama’s measure an affront to religious freedom.
There’s something to be said for a leader who is humble enough to admit being wrong. A person ought to reconsider an opinion when its flaws are exposed. It doesn’t appear that Romney’s shifting views are the result of some intellectual transformation however, but are instead an attempt to appease Republican reactionaries.
When a candidate’s opinion has the ability to affect millions of lives, it should be immune from partisan politics.
A decade ago, Mitt Romney described himself as a “moderate” Republican with “progressive” views. Earlier this year, he claimed he is “severely conservative.”
Which is it, Mitt?