http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-left-and-right-really-mean/2011/08/25/gIQARtAqXR_blog.html#pagebreakConsider the partywide flips and flops of just the past few years:

— Supporting a temporary, deficit-financed payroll-tax cut as a stimulus measure in 2009, as Republican Sen. John McCain and every one of his colleagues did, put you on the right. Supporting a temporary, deficit-financed payroll tax-cut in late 2011 put you on the left. Supporting it in early 2012 could have put you on either side.

— Supporting an individual mandate as a way to solve the health-care system’s free-rider problem between 1991 and 2007 put you on the right. Doing so after 2010 put you on the left.

— Supporting a system in which total carbon emissions would be capped and permits traded as a way of moving toward clean energy using the power of market pricing could have put you on either the left or right between 2000 and 2008. After 2009, it put you squarely on the left.

— Caring about short-term deficits between 2001 and 2008 put you on the left. Caring about them between 2008 and 2012 put you on the right.

— Favoring an expansive view of executive authority between 2001 and 2008 put you on the right. Doing so since 2009 has, in most cases, put you on the left.

— Supporting large cuts to Medicare in the context of universal health-care reform puts you on the left, as every Democrat who voted for the Affordable Care Act found out during the 2010 election. Supporting large cuts to Medicare in the context of deficit reduction puts you on the right, as Republicans found out in the 1990s, and then again after voting for Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed budget in 2011.

— Decrying the filibuster and considering drastic changes to the Senate rulebook to curb it between 2001 and 2008 put you on the right, particularly if you were exercised over judicial nominations. Since 2009, decrying the filibuster and considering reforms to curb it has put you on the left.

— Favoring a negative tax rate for the poorest Americans between 2001 and 2008 could have put you on the right or the left. In recent years, it has put you on the left.

I don’t particularly mind flip-flops. Consistency is an overrated virtue. But honesty isn’t. In many of these cases, the parties changed policy when it was politically convenient to do so, not when conditions changed and new information came to light.