Flip-flopping: a norm in presidential elections

The Republican candidate for President of the United States is associated with a certain phenomenon.

By Marcin Bryszak

Changing viewpoints and attitudes have become an integral part of the US presidential elections in recent history, thanks in large part to candidate Mitt Romney.

Romney’s rapid change of stance on political, economic and social issues has been labeled by the media as “flip-flopping.“ This creates uncertainty regarding the views of the Republican candidate. What are Romney’s real positions? Not even the man himself seems to know that.

During the 2012 election cycle, popular internet website – mittromneyflipflops.com has collated Romney’s flips and flops to illustrate just how much he has been contradiciting himself in speeches and interviews.

A popular example of Romney’s flip-flopping are statements dealing with immigration. On the flip side is Romney saying illegal immigrants should have a chance to obtain citizenship.

On the flop side, Romney has said, “[I] think I’m best off to describe my own positions. And my positions, I think I’ve just described for you – secure the border, employment verification and no special pathway to citizenship. I feel that’s the course we ought to take”.

But it is not just Romney who flips and flops. Obama’s largest flip flop to date was on gay marriage. Trying to win back the Democratic base, Obama changed his long-standing viewpoint on gay marriage and came out in support of same-sex couples.

According to an interview Obama gave to ABC news this past May, he discussed his thought process on same-sex marriage as an “evolution,” something that evolved after conversations with his staff members and openly gay and lesbian service members.

“Changing one’s mind on a core issue, an issue of conscience, is not uncommon in a politician…but changing on all of the core issues?,“ Jonathan Capehart, a journalist at The Washington Post wrote in his column, “This strains credulity and calls into question whether a politician who does so has a core at all.”

This Presidential campaign is no different from past campaigns, however. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was often criticised, by his rival then-President George W. Bush, for “flip-flopping” his stance on several issues, including the ongoing war in Iraq.

Kerry’s famous flop came on 16th March, 2004 during an appearance at Marshall University. In trying to explain his vote for an $87 billion supplemental appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry told the crowd, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

It awaits to be seen whether Obama’s and Romney’s flip flopping will have an impact on the election.