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Check This: Does a Little Hypocrisy Make a Good Candidate?

Honest, trustworthy, not a "flip-flopper" — they're all qualities we think we prize in a candidate. But what if a little dose of hypocrisy actually makes a candidate stronger? This piece in the Boston Globe yesterday floats a new campaign slogan, "Vote Hypocrite!" Here's why:

"Hypocrites, in constructing an electable persona for themselves, are clearly demonstrating that they understand their personal limitations. They recognize the need to adapt what they happen to believe to what is politically prudent. So it's possible to see hypocrisy as evidence of politicians who will do what they say once in office because they set no special premium by their private preferences."

The original hypocrites, ancient Greeks wearing masks on stage, meant someone who was hiding their true identity. In modern politics, we think of the mask as the barrier between a politician's public pronouncements and how he or she conducts their private affairs. We then prize a lack of hypocrisy because it reassures us that once a candidate is elected he'll do what he promised. Here's how it might be foolish to court an Honest Abe,


If a candidate maintains strict accounting between his public and private life, we run the risk of either a candidate whose public beliefs ebb and flow with those behind the scenes making them appear weak. Or the contrary — a leader whose private ideals are so uncomplicated that he misses subtlety and nuance. Does this notion make bring any leaders to your mind?

"If we don't want our politicians to change their minds, we have to ensure that their minds are uncluttered by anything that might force them to rethink."

The piece is worth a read. What do you think? Do you want an absolutely honest leader, or are shades of gray a useful addition to the process?


Join The Conversation
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Understanding why they believe what they do on the issues is almost more important to me in evaluating a candidate than just their carefully worded policy statements." I agree. Good point!
ISUjules ISUjules 9 years
I totally agree with the comments. I think it is ridiculous to expect candidates to never change their minds on a single issue. I go back and forth weekly on which candidate I like and what I believe about certain issues. Why should they be any different? I do however want the candidate to explain to me his/her change of heart - what new information led to this shift. Understanding why they believe what they do on the issues is almost more important to me in evaluating a candidate than just their carefully worded policy statements.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think that taking new information into account when making decisions is so important! I dont hold it against a candidate if they change their mind as new information comes to light.
tigerflags tigerflags 9 years
Think about how many decisions a person makes in life. It would be impossible to not (or want to) change your mind. Admitting your limits and errors only makes you human.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I agree with that statement, I think. Being able to try things, see that it doesn't work, then try something else or being able to compromise your own ideas to get something done is important.
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