Why Gender Diversity Matters in Politics

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My buddy Rich Wilkins provides the brogressive response to my argument that it would be bad if we had an all-male US House delegation.

Unfortunately, I think he has created a strawman version of my argument to make things easier on himself. There’s more at the link but the parts I bolded are the parts I’m disputing:

This brings me to Jon Geeting’s piece on the lack of female representation in PA’s Congressional Delegation. His argument has two parts, and I will take it as such.

  1. We should not have a current 17-1 male to female split in the House seats in PA. We shouldn’t have an 18-0 split after the next election. In reality, we should have about a 9-9 split, or at least politically we should have 2 or 3 female Democrats out of the five. 
  2. He thinks we should pick women candidates just because they have better life experiences or something. Better life experiences? I couldn’t disagree more. Why? Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, FDR, JFK, LBJ, RFK, Hubert Humphrey, Tip O’Neill, Harry Reid,…. I’ll just stop there. There is no evidence that white guys can’t represent liberal interests in an effective way. They have done a wonderful job in the past, and can still, if they actually are liberal and believe in the principles of the party. Do women do a great job representing us? Yes, they do. Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, you name it. Should there be a lot more of them in PA? Yes. Should you just pick a woman because she’s a woman? Never. It’s a bad way to pick government and a bad way to win elections.

First, I never gave a number for how many women representatives I think PA should have. Women are about half the people, so yeah 9-9 would be the ideal, but a perfect split probably isn’t totally necessary. The key priority for 2015 is “more than zero.”

And the reason it’s a key priority isn’t that an all-male, overwhelmingly white delegation can’t represent liberal interests well, it’s that they have different ideas about what liberal interests and priorities are than women do, or people of color do, because your life experiences shape what’s important to you.

An all-female US House delegation would have very different ideas about what the party agenda should be, and which issues are most important to prioritize in Congress. If you had a delegation of all business owners, or all doctors, they would have certain biases about what’s important.

The idea that white liberal men don’t bring their own built-in biases from their own (substantially more privileged) lived experiences to politics, and are some kind of neutral group is absurd. Truly representative government requires a diversity of perspectives, especially in a party whose electoral base is dominated by working class women and people of color.

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