6 November 2013: Reason needed to reverse an opinion

Reason needed to reverse an opinion

The two-part series I wrote on the wisdom of preserving open space atop Floyd Hill elicited varied responses, written and verbal.  Some were specific to the issue itself and others about me changing my position and being willing to not only say so but also be clear in my explanation for the shift in perspective.

The comments about preserving open space were supportive, ranging from conditional to unconditional, from “I agree with your logic, but…” to “best article ever!”  One that caused me to smile read, “So pigs are flying again.”  When I responded that I hadn’t known they ceased being aviatory—I coined a new word—the commentator replied, “Well it’s nice to know you have the power to change your opinion when faced with another set of facts.  Proud of you.”

That last response encapsulated the essence of what to me is a powerful mind: comfortable with where he/she is due to research—evidence gathering—and critical thinking but open to changing his/her position when confronted with more facts or after arriving at an alternative outlook.  Gosh, I wish climate-change deniers were willing to do that, but I digress.

When I advocated for development atop Floyd Hill a few years back, it was in context of two concepts: property rights and economic development.  Since I have never held a property owner ought to be able to do anything he/she wishes with his/her property, a major problem for me to consort with laissez-faire libertarianism, the first concept presented no obstacle to move past.

It was, then, primarily in the area of economic development, along with a better understanding of the safety and infrastructural issues that would come with development, which caused my shift in thinking.  Once I arrived at those premises, it would’ve been dishonest of me to continue to advocate for development.

Recent American history offers a classic example of people re-assessing a prior-held outlook and then changing it: same-sex marriage.  The reversal of support for it has been overwhelming.  Less than two decades ago, a sizeable majority opposed it.  Now over a dozen states allow it, and polls show notable majorities supporting it.  Why?  Because people came to realize that their opposition was based on unfounded hysteria: Same-sex marriage offers no threat to traditional marriage and the Constitution is not about inscribing religious dogma and tenets as civil law.

In my September 11th column “Politicians need to keep their promises,” I wrote that Commissioner Tom Hayden “was for open space before he was against it.”  I was, of course, alluding to the infamous gaffe made by then-presidential contender John Kerry in 2004.  The flip-flop tag was applied and it stuck.

It’s one thing to “have the power to change your opinion when faced with another set of facts” but quite another to assert “I had indicated to a lot of people that I was going to vote in favor of the open space, and that was when I was campaigning,” as Hayden did.

Ouch! Does that ever smack of political opportunism and duplicity!  With that statement, Hayden did himself in: His countywide credibility was shot.

I told Commissioner Phil Buckland essentially that when he and I met recently.  I told him also, as far as I am concerned, his credibility is shot given he, like Hayden, wouldn’t trust me to serve as an honest broker/facilitator on KYGT during last fall’s election.  Since neither was unwilling to trust me, I, in turn, don’t trust them.  It’s that simple.

As the American people don’t respect flip-floppers or political opportunists, I’m not big on office-seekers ducking events out of fear they might commit a gaffe or something might arise they cannot control.

What people do respect is for a leader to explain why he/she changed his/her position, logically and non-emotively.

Perhaps, Mr. Hayden and Mr. Buckland might be willing to write a piece for the Courant detailing precisely their rationale for their change of heart and/or mind.  The good citizens of Floyd Hill, as well as the rest of us, deserve and would appreciate a respectful explanation about how development there will enhance the economic viability of Clear Creek.

Further, perhaps both gentlemen would be willing to explain why canning a $30,000 position at the animal shelter was a pressing budgetary item.  We could then be treated to an analysis of how development atop Floyd Hill would produce sufficient revenue to fund the animal shelter staff position that had such an onerous affect upon the county budget.  Now, there’s a thought!


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