“You voted for Hillary because you’re a woman and she’s a woman. You should vote based on merit. Voting on the basis of gender makes you a sexist.”
Some version of that gripe will echo for months. It’s like the complaint that African-Americans voted for Obama just because he’s black.
Both complaints are baseless, because only a mind-reader knows why another person chooses a candidate.
If you want to talk sexism, though, ask how often women have voted for men versus how often men have voted for women. I’ll bet that by that comparison, women come off as much less sexist, more often voting across gender lines.
I can hear the response now: “That’s not a fair comparison. Sometimes, women aren’t on the ballot. Men haven’t had equal opportunity to vote for women.”
This response sounds like the excuses from corporations that wouldn’t put women and minority-group members into executive positions: The companies claimed that they simply couldn’t find female and minority candidates that they liked enough.
(In fact, good candidates often did exist, but companies didn’t look for them or pay much favorable attention to them. When the companies did look but still couldn’t find good candidates, the reason was often bias at lower levels of the system, which had blocked female and minority talent from getting the experience that would have qualified them as executives. Either way, the fault lay more with the corporations than with the candidates.)
But back to elections. Another possible response to the issue of voting along gender lines:
“Most men vote for male candidates not for reasons of gender but for the same reason why any voter supports any candidate: the male candidates represent the men’s viewpoints and values.”
Exactly. People want to vote for a candidate who thinks like them, and gender factors into a person’s way of thinking. If women are guilty of sexism, so are men.
Should women support other women? Let me toss in an analogous situation.
One reason — a minor reason, but still a reason — why I voted for Bernie Sanders was because we’re both secular Jews, and I wanted to support one of my own.
I wouldn’t have supported him if I had disagreed with him on the issues or if I had found his personality as repugnant as Donald Trump’s. But his brand of Jewishness added a little bit into my decision.
If it had been the only factor, then I would be a religious bigot, just as voting solely on the basis of gender would make me a sexist bigot. But I don’t see a problem in such factors being small parts of the decision.
And in November, I plan to vote for Hillary.