When Jeff Jacoby explains why gender is no credential for the White House, he cites violinists, who should not be chosen on the basis of gender. That’s because violinists’ primary credential is their musicianship. Elected officials’ primary credential for their service is representativeness, a qualification that cannot be wholly separated from the identities and experiences that they bring to politics and policy making.
Diversity of viewpoints is essential to our representative democracy, and that diversity stems, at least in part, from the experiences we each have in navigating a world that is neither post-racial nor gender-neutral. Does anyone doubt that Representative John Lewis’s experience as a black man contributes to his leadership on civil rights, or that Senator Marco Rubio’s upbringing as a son of working-class immigrants colors his thinking about social or economic policy?
Highlighting the prospect of a woman president is not to suggest a preference based on biology. Nor is it to imply that all women are the same. Whether women are Democrats or Republicans, their distinctive experiences contribute to their approaches to governing.
We choose our leaders based on how they will represent us. Gender is part of that equation.
The Center for American Women and Politics and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation have launched Presidential Gender Watch 2016, a nonpartisan project to track and analyze gender dynamics in the 2016 election.