One of the most common terms that you’ll hear in the political realm is “flip-flopper,” which became popular during the 2004 presidential election when it was used against Democratic nominee John Kerry for changing certain political views. Kerry is certainly not alone, though, as almost every politician has reversed course on at least one topic throughout their careers.
Democrats, Republicans, independents, and all other parties have their core beliefs, but some members have strayed away from those over the years. Here are five politicians who changed their minds on fundamental issues, and why they did it.
Joe Biden – Gay Marriage
It might be surprising to a lot of younger people, but even during the 1990s and 2000s, there were many members of the Democratic Party who were against gay marriage. Among them was one of the leading members of the party, Joe Biden. It wasn’t until his time as Vice President under Barack Obama that Biden changed his opinion on gay marriage being recognized by the government.
Michael Lombardo, former head of HBO, said that Biden met with him and his husband in 2012, and it helped the eventual President to change his mind. Since then, Biden has been a huge supporter of gay marriage, saying “Things are changing so rapidly, it’s going to become a political liability in the near term for someone to say, ‘I oppose gay marriage.’”
Bob Inglis – Climate Change
Bob Inglis served two terms as a member of the House of Representatives, representing the state of South Carolina from 1993-1999 and from 2005-2011. When climate change was first touted around the political realm, Inglis said that it was a hoax. After doing some research into the topic, though, Inglis changed his mind and it cost him his seat.
Republicans have held firm on their stance about climate change, and Inglis lost all support within his party. He has remained conservative but has spent his years since serving in Washington trying to get his fellow Republicans to accept that climate change is real. He added that because of tribalism, it has been hard to get many to agree with him.
Donald Trump – Abortion
Long before he became the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump was a businessman who identified as a Democrat and was a firm pro-choice believer. In fact, he said so in multiple interviews, including saying “I’m very pro-choice…I hate the concept of abortion, but still, I just believe in choice.”
When he began campaigning for the White House as a Republican, though, Trump changed his tune and became pro-life. When he selected pro-life justices to fill Supreme Court vacancies, Trump said “This brings everything back to the states where it has always belonged,” adding that “God made the decision” to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022. “This brings everything back to the states where it has always belonged,” he said.
Mitch McConnell – Gun Control
There are times when a politician may not really change how they personally feel about a certain topic but want to make sure that they’re appealing to enough voters to keep their jobs. Many feel that that’s the way Republican Congress leader Mitch McConnell was when he changed his stance on gun control in the United States. For many years, McConnell said that he would go against liberal policies on gun control with full force, but then switched gears after Republicans didn’t perform well in the 2022 midterm elections.
Many suburban voters, even those who identify as Republicans, began scaling back their support of the second amendment following the increase in mass shootings in the United States. Dan Eberhart, a major donor to the party, said that “McConnell can read the polls as well as anyone…Republicans are being painted as extremists on every issue because of the MAGA issue. Guns are an issue where they can disprove that narrative.”
Tulsi Gabbard – Entire Democrat Policy
During the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Tulsi Gabbard was one of the leading candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination. The Hawaii congresswoman was seen by the party as someone who could potentially appeal to more moderate Democrats, but overall, Gabbard had many left-leaning policies that included the legalization of drugs. That changed after she didn’t earn the bid, however.
In late 2022, Gabbard left the Democratic Party (though she was already out of office at that point), and cited multiple reasons. Gabbard said that the party was “stoking anti-white racism” and that they “demonize the police but protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans…And above all, they are dragging us ever closer to nuclear war.” Though she officially said she was becoming independent, she has appeared at many conservative rallies and conferences since the switch.