Reversal, Turnabout, or Flip-Flop: Doing the Right Thing and Owning It

News outlets across the country are percolating with President Obama’s recent announcement that he may take executive action to spearhead immigration reform. Faced with a Congress in irons, the President is once again at an impasse: Stay the course leading to a certain collision of politics, morals, economics, and human rights or revise his opinion on the limits of executive power.

As was the case in 2012 (and a long time before), the resources our law makers have allowed for immigration enforcement are currently not effectively utilized to further the supposed goals of our system–that is, to remove individuals who pose a threat to national security and the safety of U.S. citizens. Regardless of one’s standpoint on who should be allowed to enter or continue to reside in this country, it is simply irresponsible to ignore the fact that our government is not able to enforce our immigration laws within its current, fiscal boundaries.

Given these realities, it is disappointing to see a number of recent news stories dedicated to highlighting how the President has reversed his opinion on the limits of executive power. These articles accurately quote the President explaining, throughout 2013, how he did not have the power to take further executive action regarding immigration enforcement. The articles, also accurately, explain how the President has since revised this opinion and intends to issue an executive order on immigration in the next few days. Additionally, in examining this political sea change, these articles’ authors could not resist addressing one of the most toxic decisions in American politics: the changing of one’s mind when faced with undeniable facts.

Rather than addressing this change in legal interpretation as what it is: a necessity, these authors have chosen to label the President’s decision a “reversal,” “turnabout,” or “flip-flop.” Don’t get me wrong, President’s Obama’s new stance on executive action for immigration is all of those things. But why are we speaking of such a decision pejoratively? Why are we focusing on the evolved interpretation itself rather than the facts precipitating that evolution? Perhaps more importantly, why is the Obama administration playing along? We should ask ourselves: What kind of leaders do we want for our country? Do we want a President who sticks to his word? Of course. But do we want a President who sticks to his interpretation of the law despite changing facts and public policy? I should hope not.

President Obama should own this flip-flop. He should own it because, although it’s a reversal, a turnabout, a change up, a go-backsies, it’s the Right Thing To Do. If doing right means changing your mind, why resolve yourself to remaining wrong?