Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lock

People change their minds all the time. They change their minds about what route they're going to take to work, what they're going to have for lunch, and what they're going to say to the boss when they finally win the lottery. I happen to think that changing your mind is good; it demonstrates that you're open to new information, new knowledge, new experiences and new conclusions, and that you're willing to allow that newness to influence the manner in which you look at the world.

In politics, however, it almost seems like this is a cardinal sin.

Changes of mind and direction have been somewhat prominent in the news recently. In Toronto, there haven't been many recent stories about city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, he with the communist-detecting nose, that have skipped over his past involvement as a union leader and a member of the New Democratic Party - posts practically diametrically opposite from his current place as an ally of the Ford administration. Before that, federal NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel took heat in the media for her ties to the Quebec sovereignty movement - ties which were, incidentally, dissolved once she became interim leader.

I've seen politicians been lambasted in the world of public opinion for daring - daring - to change their opinion on an issue. Note that this is something entirely distinct from not living up to platform promises, as I suspect that aside from circumstances where a dog is elected mayor of a small town, you're not going to find a politician who doesn't renege on electoral promises in one way or another.

I can't help but see this as completely backwards. The last sort of person I want in a position of power is someone who will hold on to their view of the world come hell or high water, despite new information or changing circumstances. The modern world is a protean thing, and it will not be forced down the same old channel no matter how much you want it to. A proper leader should be able to go with it, to change course mid-stream, and not stand resolute against the current. That's the problem with leaders such as, say, Rob Ford - he knows what he knows and he'll be damned if anything's going to change his mind, so the world had better adapt to the way he wants it to be.

Too bad the world doesn't actually work that way.

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