The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

Two days after the Obama reelection in November, the Fox News reporter, Sean Hannity announced on-air that his view of immigration had “evolved” and he was willing to take a more lenient position. And since then many Republicans are taking a similar stance, deciding that on that issue in particular they have to adjust their views if they are going to have any chance of winning more Latino voters.

There are some members of the Republicans, however, who are digging their heels in and castigating those of their party who are equivocating on this and other issues. They feel that compromise against bedrock principles of their party…and all of their principles seem to be “bedrock” to them…is completely verboten. The Republican hysteria about “compromise” was so severe last summer that John Boehner in one TV interview refused to even use the word “compromise” when cornered on the matter.

But, Hannity and his ilk can equivocate on this and other matters and still be conservative Republicans. Changing your mind on issues does not mean that you have sold your soul to anyone, certainly not the “liberals” or Obama. The ability to change your mind is a sign of mental health and emotional maturity. Ralph Waldo Emerson said 150 years ago, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Being consistent for the sake of consistency is lame, to put it mildly.

But True Believers have a hard time changing their mind because in the depths of their heart that would mean to them, “Oh no. I have been wrong!” Well, welcome to the world! Who hasn’t and who will not continue to be from time to time? All of us are short-sighted and need to have our eyes checked occasionally or perhaps clean our glasses.

(True Believers was a book by Eric Hoffer about fanaticism which is worthy of a reading evn in modern times.)

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