Can Michaud, LePage make November a blockbuster month for flip-flops?

Mike: Cynthia, did you hear Mike Michaud’s business idea if he doesn’t win?

Cynthia: No….

Mike: He’s going to sell all his flip-flops!

But seriously, in 2002, Mike was the pro-life Democrat running against the pro-choice Republican. Now he says he is supportive of taxpayer-funded abortions. Meanwhile, in 2010 he received an “A” grade from the NRA, but two weeks ago he was campaigning for gun control with Gabby Giffords.

Now, I don’t believe a person’s political positions should be permanent from the time they turn 18 — I know some of mine have changed the more I’ve seen and done in the world. But how can voters know when a politician has really changed his mind versus when he is “flip-flopping” for political gain?

Cynthia: The joke is on Republicans, clamoring about “taxpayer-funded abortion” in a tightly contested election among men that will be decided by women. Polls report a block of female voters are on the fence between candidates and will “flip” the scales come Election Day. Polling also confirms an overwhelming majority will support a candidate who trusts women to make decisions about their constitutionally protected reproductive rights.

So to Mike Michaud’s now support of publicly funded family planning services, this Christian woman says hallelujah. Any time a public figure awakens to injustice and “evolves,” it’s a good day.

As far as gun control, Gabby Giffords’ support of Congressman Michaud is no different than her support of Sen. Collins. It’s not flip-flopping to simultaneously support gun rights and reasonable safety precautions like background checks, it’s common sense.

Mike Michaud listens, opens his mind to new ideas and keeps pace with the changing views of his constituency. Gov. LePage opens his mouth and lies come out.

Mike: You conveniently leave out Eliot, who has long held many of the same positions Mike now claims he holds. And your point is correct about Sen. Collins and Gabby Giffords, but irrelevant: Susan wasn’t trumpeting her “A” rating from the NRA just a few short years ago.

However, I wasn’t getting to the substance of the positions — those are columns (or dissertations) on their own. The soaring rhetoric flew right past my question: how can voters know when a “flip flop” is real or merely politically convenient? Say what you want about Paul LePage, but I think his opponents would admit he has driven change — even if they don’t agree with it — in the direction he promised.

Cynthia: Paul LePage is driving people nuts, and in the direction of the nearest voting booth. And my soaring rhetoric? Loaded GOP buzzwords like “taxpayer-funded abortion” scream out for a substantive discussion about the fairness of reproductive health policy. But sure, we can talk about why women are fleeing the Republican Party, or Eliot Cutler for that matter, another time.

To answer your question directly — there is no foolproof way to gauge a candidate’s change of heart. It’s a judgment call based on a variety of factors. Is the candidate someone we trust? Is there new information available that informs the debate? Has public opinion changed? Is the change of position one that leads towards a more perfect union?

It’s definitely easier to spot a liar, don’t you think? And did you know you can buy Paul LePage flip-flops online?

Mike: I did not know you could buy those. Never underestimate the creativity of the market! Although I’m not sure who the customer base is.

Anyway, yes, it should be easier to spot a liar, but what is the difference between a lie and “evolving?” Whether or not the observer agrees with the new position? I’d rather have a politician say “these are the five things I want to accomplish,” and I can then judge them at the next election on their success or failure. And if you are a legislator stuck in committee-land blaming the committee on why you failed, then explain how you will be more successful if we send you back. But the definition of insanity…

The fact is that everywhere else in this world — businesses, schools, the military — you have expectations and are judged on whether or not you meet them. Why should politics be different?

Cynthia: Businesses, schools, the military and people must adapt to changing circumstances in order to be successful. There is power in movement.

I believe Mike Michaud is sincere in his growing appreciation of the importance of access to health care for women. His voting record proves it. I don’t agree with everything he stands for, but I trust Mike and believe he’s honest. His demeanor is forthright and earnest, and my gut tells me he’s for real.

Paul LePage seems mad all the time at everybody. And the definition of insanity? Madness.

Mike: November normally isn’t flip-flop season, but I guess we’ll see if people are buying.