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Evolution vs. the Flip Flop

May 11, 2012


Simplified scheme of human evolution, it does ...

When President Obama announced that he was personally for gay marriage, millions of Americans realized that they were more evolved than the President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Obama’s opinion of gay marriage is said to be evolving because he used to be (politically) against gay marriage but now he is (personally) for it.  Sometimes, this is called flip flopping. 

Mitt Romney has been accused of flip flopping, but I’m not sure what he flip flopped about  because his accusers were his Republican primary opponents who had no chance of winning, so I didn’t pay attention to what they said about Mitt Romney.  Once President Obama starts accusing Mitt Romney of flip flopping (if he has already started, I missed it), then I’ll start paying attention to Mitt Romney’s flip flops. 

When it comes to gay marriage, President Obama is still in the evolutionary process because his position isn’t complete yet.  He supports the rights of homosexuals to get married but believes it’s a state issue (It might be the one issue where Obama believes in state rights).  From his supporters’ point of view, Obama will not be truly evolved until he can fully commit to federal legislation that grants rights for gays to get married to each other. 

Mitt Romney is probably not done flip flopping yet on whatever issues he is flip flopping on because now the Republican primary is pretty much over, and he has to flip flop himself into general election mode.  And he’d better watch out, because President Obama is evolving right before our eyes.  

It used to be really easy for a politician to flip flop and evolve because until a couple decades ago, nobody could keep track of what a politician said all the time.  For example, a candidate could say one thing to the unions and then later that day say something completely different to business owners, and neither the unions nor the business owners would find out what the politician said to the other groups. 

But those days are over.   Nowadays, every evolutionary flip flopping step is analyzed and used against the evolving flip flopper. 

I’m not sure that there’s a difference between evolving and flip flopping, but if there is, it’s this. 

A flip flop is when a politician changes his/her position to get votes depending on what’s politically popular at the time.  Evolution is when a politician hides his/her opinion to get votes and then eases to his/her real position when it’s more popular.  Neither is good.  Evolution is thought to be more positive because it implies that there is something noble in the evolutionary change when (most likely) the evolving politician is just as calculating as the flip flopper. 

If I’m wrong about the definition of evolution, it’s because there have been so few candidates who have claimed to be evolving; I can only go with the one example I know about.  If President Obama’s attempt at evolution is successful, then more politicians will use the term “evolving” whenever they’re accused of flip flopping.  

It will be interesting to see if the term “evolving” retains its positive connotation once a bunch of really unpopular politicians (even more unpopular than Obama) start using the term. 


I kind of like the word “evolving.”  The next time I lose a nonpolitical  argument (it happens a lot), and I have to change my mind (I’m married, so I have to compromise a lot), I won’t have to admit that I’m wrong.  I can just say that my opinion is “evolving.” 

That’s a lot better than admitting to flip flopping.

From → Dysfunctileaks

  1. Nice write-up.

    I’m as glad as anyone that President Obama has come out and said this – well, actually there are probably millions of Americans who are gladder – but I don’t believe for a second that any evolution was involved. He just couldn’t admit how he felt before.

  2. lankyjayne permalink

    This is great!
    Love to hear more about the world of American politics – feel a little left out here in Aus.

  3. Enjoyed your post. Then I didn’t. Then I did. I must be evolving.

    • I don’t know because I’m still figuring out this “evolving” thing. I think to “evolve,” you have to like the post but say you don’t like the post and then sometime later admit that you like the post without admitting that you had liked the post earlier. I think that’s “evolving,” but I’m not sure.

  4. A very intelligent commentary. I enjoyed this. Great contrast between flip-flopping and evolving. All a matter of perspective, depending whether or not you want to paint a candidate in a negative or a positive light.

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