Reporter's Note: Sometimes I change strings on my guitars, and sometimes I change the whole instrument. And yet, oddly, at all times I write to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
I have been thinking about buying a new guitar. A Gretsch. Which is interesting, because only a few years ago I distinctly did not like them. They seemed too heavy. The design struck me as clunky in some parts. But now, mysteriously, I have grown inexpressibly fond of all the things that I disliked. Now they seem like lovely, beautifully formed, and imminently playable works of art.
One thing I've learned by growing older is that I was not nearly as fully formed in my ideas and opinions as I thought I was when I was younger. My views have refined, shifted, sometimes changed altogether. Some concepts that I considered sacrosanct now don't strike me as such; likewise, some notions that I thought were foolish, I now consider with fresh eyes.
Some people, I am sure, will see this as a shakiness of character and consequently a bad thing, but I think it is undeniably good. I mean, if we all knew everything by the age of 21, what precisely would be the purpose of our intellectual lives afterward? Confirming what we already know? I can't imagine that would be much fun.
I mention this because in the brutal, smash mouth world of DC politics, elected officials..."such as yourself, if you please" (that's from the Sean Penn version of All The King's Men...great movie) are often trapped by past positions. Statements made about some issue years ago are clung to like life rafts to ward off any accusations of flip-flopping.
Obviously, simply shifting views to pander to the electorate is wrong - especially when it involves doing or saying something that you truly think is wrong. But I think political leaders in both parties need to be more open and honest about how their views change over time. Because sometimes those changes reflect not inconsistency, as much as maturity. And we could use more of that in DC. Just like I could use a new guitar.
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