What causes someone, particularly those who are in power, to change a conviction that is so deeply held that it is a part of a person’s identity? The term evolution is associated with biology class and how lifeforms change over time. However, in the political realm, if someone were to evolve they had a change of mind, and possibly heart, on various issues. Many theories about evolution claim human beings were reptiles at one point in time and they evolved into the human beings that we know and hate. In a symbolic sense, to devolve entails returning to the reptile stage because comparing a person to a reptile is an insult in our culture. Looking at this in a skeptical light, politicians who change their views should be more closely associated with chameleons for their ability to blend into a background. Like a chameleon, they adapt their outer appearance to their surroundings, but they are the same person inside.
On the surface, changing a stance on an issue is smart because agreeing with other people makes them more likable. Likability is a major factor in getting people to support them no matter what the profession is because being likable means one can stay in that position and has more job security. Being in tune with those in power in power requires certain personality traits, agreeableness being a big one, makes one more appealing. Conversely, a politician who can read people and get them to support them will stand a better chance of getting elected. A truly skillful person can adapt their views in a way that appears seamless and has very few inconsistences. This task is made all the more difficult because over time people change their minds.
Unless someone is good enough to predict the future, most people have views that will appear retrograde fifty years in the future. The trick to convincing people is to make it appear that they are not too transparent in their changing mindset. It is amazing to hear a politician claim to be the voice of the people around election time, yet in the interim that populace streak is nowhere to be found. On the opposite side, powerless people, especially ones from marginalized groups, may hide their true opinions in order to not offend those who are in power. Go along to get along is a tough pill to swallow, but can be important for their career. The difference is that for the marginalized group this is more of a survival tactic, while a politicians shifting views is an attempt to get/remain in power.
People say the admire conviction, but depending on ones status in society that may not work in their favor. For those who are in power, especially politicians, any reptile is an apt metaphor for their behavior with snake being the best comparison. Powerless people have to become chameleons in order to get their foot in the door. Whenever the powerful adopt the chameleon traits they appear more snakelike because it is not necessary for them to do so. The truth of the matter is that everyone has to make changes in their viewpoints, because if they don’t the world will leave them behind and the world can be a lonely place. If people were completely honest all of the time and said what they really thought nobody would like them, because without a façade, most flaws would make them remotely attractive.