Guest Post: If You Can’t Change Your Mind, Did You Really Decide?

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Festivus, who will hopefully become a regular feature here at the TwShiloh empire.

In the world of politics, today’s voters can be divided into two groups – the decided and the undecided. All of the focus is on converting undecided voters to leave that category and commit to a candidate. One simple reason for this is that undecided voters can swing either party to a victory if they can be converted. Another, less hopeful reason for this focus is that each party has accepted the premise that decided voters’ minds cannot be changed. People are steadfast in their decisions and reinforce them until they cannot budge. They become each candidate’s ‘base.’ A result of this may be that decided voters are taken for granted. Maybe that’s deserved. Maybe not. Either way, as a decided voter, it got me thinking, “What would it take to change my mind? Can I change my mind? There’s got to be something that would shift me away from my current choice.”

In the past, I’ve described intelligence as open-mindedness and the willingness to hear and think through new, foreign or conflicting ideas, opinions, and theories and then draw an informed conclusion. Stupidity is the opposite – refusing to hear or consider new or different positions. Right or wrong, these are my personal judgments.

Assuming I want to meet my own standard of intelligence, I need to be willing to take in new data and revisit my decisions. Often. As variables change, the equation changes. That makes tremendous sense to me at a theoretical level. I know I actually do this all day, every day, as a financial advisor attempting to interpret a plethora of data points to determine opportunities and risks for my clients. But do I live up to that standard on a personal level?

So, back to the presidential election and changing my mind. Here’s what I came up with. It’s by no means a clear spectrum or comprehensive list, but it’s got some points that seem particularly relevant to voters these days. The question is, how relevant are they to you? I wanted to keep the list short and made up of fairly discrete issues – not too open to interpretation. Are decided voters really that intractable? Here’s the test to evaluate your own willingness to change your mind (for all of you decided voters out there). Consider just your presidential candidate of choice. We’re not talking about changing parties, long term loyalties or anything so grand. This is a simple question. Would any one of the following activities, if found to be true, make you abandon your current choice in the upcoming election? What if your candidate…

1)      was found guilty of lying to voters about policy decisions

2)      was found guilty of tax evasion

3)      was found guilty of adultery

4)      was found guilty of alcohol/drug abuse

5)      was found guilty of spousal abuse

6)      suddenly took the opposite stance on abortion rights from the present

7)      suddenly took the opposite stance on tax cuts

8)      suddenly took the opposite stance on gay marriage

 Note, this does not mean you’d vote for the opposition. It just means you’d withdraw support from your current choice. So the question again is: if you woke up today to find that ONE of the above now applied to your candidate, would you drop him? I’m curious because these are big issues and it seems that the current assumption by the politicos is that no one would change teams even if any (all?) of the above were found to be true. I know that there are certainly points above that would make me drop my guy. In a heartbeat. But not all of them.

 I hate to think that so many voters are entrenched and unwilling to change directions. It would a bad sign for our country and our culture. It would certainly be a very bad sign for our politics. Maybe the line that a candidate would have to cross to be abandoned is personal and particular to every voter. That’s ok. But I’d like to think there are also some lines that would drive all voters to leave a candidate. There has to a line somewhere. If not, then decided voters shouldn’t be called ‘decided,’ we should be called ‘owned.’

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