We all make mistakes. Some are small things from which we recover quickly while others have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives. Often it’s not the mistakes we make that define us, but how we pick ourselves back up and recover from them. In some instances, simply admitting that we made a mistake can be the difficult part. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a situation where someone is clearly in the wrong, or did something wrong, yet refuses to admit that they made mistake.
When it comes to politics, you almost never hear a politician admit that they were wrong. But that’s exactly what Bill Clinton did during a speech recently when he expressed remorse about the crime bill he passed while he was president that resulted in a lot of Americans serving long prison sentences for very minor crimes.
“I signed a bill that made the problem worse. And I want to admit it,” Clinton said.
“So we put 100,000 more police on the streets so they could be tighter tied to the community, and we passed the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban which had an ammunition on the clip, as I remember, of about 10 bullets. And we passed funds to give people something to say yes to in the after-school hours not just to say no to,” he continued.
He went on to admit that there were also a lot of bad aspects to the bill.
“In that bill, there were longer sentences and most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone, we were wrong about that,” Clinton stated. “The good news is we had the biggest drop in crime in history. The bad news is we had a lot of people who were essentially locked up who were minor actors for way too long.”
I can’t express how happy it makes me that this issue is finally gaining mainstream attention. I’ve long been an advocate that it’s ridiculous we treat addicts as criminals in this country; that we ruin lives because some struggle to overcome substance abuse and addiction. It’s absurd to treat a mental disorder with incarceration.
Then when it’s all said and done we release these people untreated, without help, into a world that will forever judge them because they served time. We take people who had little hope to begin with and set them up for even bigger failures.
I’m not talking about drug dealers, burglars, murderers, rapists, sex offenders or violent criminals – I’m talking about people suffering from addiction that science has proven is largely tied to our genetics.
But while I’m sure many will dismiss Clinton’s public showing of remorse as “too little, too late,” I couldn’t help but think about George W. Bush and his continued insistence that the Iraq War was a good idea. Hell, he refused to own up to pretty much any of the huge mistakes of his presidency (and there were many).
There’s a reason why Republicans today aren’t running on the “successes of the Bush administration” or the Republican record in Iraq – because the war will go down as one of the biggest mistakes in American history, and Bush’s presidency will go down as an unmitigated disaster.
Not that I’m saying an apology or “owning up to his mistakes” would fix anything or even change how some people view the former president, but it would at least show that Bush had the courage and leadership abilities to own up to the fact that the biggest decision he made as president was ultimately his biggest mistake. Because that’s what real leaders do – they admit when they’re wrong and learn from those mistakes (unlike some people).
It’s the cowards and the weak-minded who double down on their idiocy, trying to convince others that, despite the overwhelming evidence proving otherwise, their decision(s) were still the right ones to make.
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