I’m a white guy. Don’t vote for me.
I am a white, Gentile, heterosexual, cisgender male. I have come to believe that one of the best things I can do to advance equality is to vote for candidates who match as few of those attributes as possible.
This is not because of self-hatred or identity politics or “liberal guilt.” It’s because, no matter how sincerely sympathetic I am to those who have experienced racism, gender discrimination, homophobia, or any of a number of other ills, I am not one of them. My perception of these issues, no matter how strongly felt, will always be an abstraction.
This does not mean that I have no value, or that my views on these matters is irrelevant. It simply means that, when policymakers are debating racial profiling, I want a legislator in the room who has experienced it. When the rights of women are on the table, I want the debate to include people who have actually had those rights denied, or survived abuse. (The recent Brett Kavanaugh hearings underscored this, as women from across the political spectrum came forward to discuss their own experiences.)
This also does not mean that I will vote based solely on these attributes. I am a Democrat. If I lived in Tennessee, I would vote for the straight white guy for Senate. If I lived in Salt Lake City, I would vote against the admirable Haitian-American female representative Mia Love because I do not want to see continued GOP control of Congress.
But it does mean that, all else being equal, I prefer candidates who have experienced hardship and discrimination that I have not. If there are two candidates of otherwise equal merit on my primary ballot, I choose the woman, or the non-white candidate.
I can hear the grumbling. “Men experience hardship, too!” That is true. Men experience sexual harassment and assault, and men sometimes suffer the double-edged sword of toxic masculinity. (I used to volunteer with young children; I had to stop because some people think it’s odd for men to want to nurture in that way.) But white men experience far less hardship than do others.
White males are also feeling resentful. If you’ve always controlled 95 percent of the pie, and that’s reduced to 90 percent, you’ll shout, “Hey, give me back my pie!” Meanwhile, everyone else will be saying, “Dude, you still have way too much of the pie.”
I won the birth lottery and I know it. I can either get defensive about that and scream “#NotAllMen” (no one claimed it was), or accept that I lucked out in an unfair world and do what little I can do level things out. One direct thing I can do is to help put more people in power who do not look like me.
Lysander Ploughjogger is a media analyst, freelance writer, and parent residing in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at [email protected].