Every time a new white guy announces he’s running for President as a Democrat – NO MATTER HOW MUCH I LIKE HIM – I still find myself thinking, “Nope. Don’t want it to be him.”
Let me back up by saying I have no idea who I’m going to support in the Democratic Primaries. It’s way too early for me to start stressing about that because the last Presidential election destroyed my soul and I’m not looking forward to another journey through the pits of political depression.
THAT SAID…I’ve been thinking a lot about this automatic reaction I have to Another White Guy Running. My first observation of this was when Bernie announced. But – here’s the thing – I didn’t love Bernie in 2016. So, I was thinking maybe my response was more about him and less about him being a white guy.
But then Beto announced and I really like that guy but – again – my first thought was, “Nope. Don’t want it to be him.”
And I’m 100% honest when I tell you that the more I dig into both of my reactions the more I come back to – No matter how much I like him – I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO VOTE FOR ANOTHER STRAIGHT WHITE GUY.
So I’ve been reflecting on this and trying to see if the roots of this are problematic and I’m here to say that today I believe: NO. NO THEY ARE NOT.
First of all – straight white guys still hold a disproportionate amount of power in this country. To say I don’t want to vote for another one is often called “punching up” in some circles. Our country was built by white men and they still hold most of the power and they definitely still benefit from the systems built to support their power, no matter how much they vocalize wanting to change those systems.
I think it’s very hard to honestly seek out solutions for replacing or removing unjust political systems when you still benefit from them. How do you prioritize that once you get into office? I just can not imagine how that looks.
I think breaking down misogynistic and racist systems of power is becoming my “Top Issue” when I think about politics because I feel like so many things depend FIRST on destroying those systems. Our education system and criminal justice system and our social support systems – even our transportation systems – all need overhauling but deeply intertwined in all of those complicated systems are racially unfair structures that need to be demolished. We’re even seeing it related to environmental issues. Recently there’s a study analyzing racism and air pollution and NPR did a great summary of their conclusions:
After accounting for population size differences, whites experience about 17 percent less air pollution than they produce, through consumption, while blacks and Hispanics bear 56 and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they cause by their consumption, according to the study.
Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air Pollution And Who Breathes It
“These patterns didn’t seem to be driven by different kinds of consumption,” says Tessum, “but different overall levels.” In other words, whites were just consuming disproportionately more of the same kinds of goods and services resulting in air pollution than minority communities.
This is what I mean when I say I think there are systemic problems related to race around every issue I hold dear to my heart and so I am focusing more and more on people who A) understand that on a deeply personal level and B) prioritize the focusing on the root causes instead of bandaids that keep the underlying unjust systems in place.
This especially became clear to me after reading a journalist rant about “Impact Investors” on Twitter this week and how they want to dump a lot of money into problem-solving, and they do a lot of good, but never at the risk of breaking the structures that allowed them to become wealthy in the first place.
It’s not that people who benefit from these power structures CAN’T do good, I’m just saying if I have a choice, I’d rather vote for someone who knows – PERSONALLY – how hard it is to rise IN SPITE of those power systems. Maybe they won’t prioritize destroying those systems once they get into office, but I have more faith they will than the guy who benefits from them in the first place.
And I’m honestly not looking for reasons why you’re supporting a white guy AND how YOUR white guy allows you to still prioritize dismantling racist systems. I actually don’t want to discusses specifics in the primaries yet. I’m just talking about general thoughts on race based on generic candidates in a generic election in this specific country built on unjust systems that favor straight, middle class white guys. We are still SO FAR from voting even at the primaries, I can’t get into specifics yet. When it’s time? Who knows. Maybe I will vote for a white guy in the primaries.
But I doubt it.
I mean, obviously I’m going to vote for whomever is on our ballot in the Democratic slot in November 2020. And I’ll campaign for them in whatever capacity I have. But in the primaries I just don’t see myself voting for a white guy. I haven’t voted for a white guy for President in the last 3 elections because I’ve had people to choose from for whom I felt the struggle against unjust power structures was much more personal and therefore they had a much more intimate understanding of it. Maybe when it’s finally time for me to vote in the primaries I won’t have an option like that, but looking at the field now I think I’ll have plenty of non-white guys to choose from.