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Two Old Men Battling It Out

March is Women’s History Month. In this month we have seen the field of Presidential candidates narrow down to two old men battling it out to see who gets to take on the other old man in the general election. (Technically Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race but her motivation remains a mystery.)

At one point there was something like 24 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination from every region of the country. There was a gay candidate, Asian candidate, black woman, black men, Latino man, Jewish man, and several white women. The fact that all these people were qualified and legitimate candidates for the highest office of the land illustrates America’s relentless social progress. The fact that now only two crusty balding men in their mid-70s remain, illustrates how far we have to go.

Frankly, it is not my place as a man to opine on gender inequity. While trying to be an ally I risk making it about myself or speaking for women. But if I am given the column space, I’m going to take that risk because I feel strongly that men have a responsibility in this fight, too. I invite your criticism. Our politics need an overhaul. A good place to start is electing more women.

Elizabeth Warren was my favorite candidate in the field, which doesn’t matter but I reveal in the interest of transparency. It is discouraging that she is now out despite being in my view, the most exciting one in the race. Everyone thinks that about their candidate, though. What is more discouraging, is that in a country where we pride ourselves on diversity and fairness, the female and minority candidates are pushed aside by less qualified white guys.

I do not want to suggest Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden or even Trump supporters are all racist or sexist. I do want to draw attention to Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris all being dynamic, effective, and supremely competent senators. Hillary Clinton is the best example. She was a very involved First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. The other thing all these women have in common is losing to less impressive men. (The Hillary example is tricky because she did win 3 million more votes.) Then they’re caught in a trap: If they correctly point to sexism in the system, they seem like whiners. If they refuse to bring it up, they’re willfully ignoring the obvious.

We have 45 cases to illustrate how our system is structured in such a way that disadvantages women seeking the presidency. Women comprise more than 50 percent of the population. A record number of women were elected to congress in 2018 and still only 101 of the 435 House members are women. 26 of 100 US Senators are women. 9 of 50 governors are women. Regardless of your politics, surely you see a problem here.

Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.

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