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No Country for Old White Men

June 21, 2012

The word on the street is that former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is at the top of Mitt Romney’s short-list for vice-president. Of course this is just speculation, but if it’s true it’s not a good sign for the long term health of the GOP. Romney + Pawlenty = white male ticket. That’s sooooo 2004.

Really though, the 2008 election featured a black man at the top of the Democratic ticket, and a woman on the Republican ticket. Even if Obama hadn’t won the Democratic nomination, the Dems probably would’ve had a woman nominee in Hillary Clinton. If the GOP has two white males on the ticket (neither of whom have a youthful buoyancy like Marco Rubio or Obama), then the party would be sending a message to the country that it truly is the bastion of old white men. Nearly every demographer, political scientist, and political strategist worth their salt admits that being a part of old white men is not sustainable. The U.S. is becoming more brown every year, and the old white male power structure no longer has the same sway it once did. The old boy network is dying, and Republicans need to seriously deal with that.

I’m not saying that Romney should pick a woman or a brown face as some sort of affirmative action, but he should acknowledge that expectations have changed, and that the country is shifting demographically. It’s easy to doubt that such acknowledgement will occur. According to Politico, the top 5 VP picks for Romney only include one person who is not a white male: Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. It’s hard to see Romney picking her though, since she represents a neighboring state. Typically geographic diversity is desirable since the presidential election game is all about winning electoral votes. Hopefully, Mitt Romney will think outside the box, eschew political insider chatter, and expand his short-list to include more women and people of color.

If you’re thinking “well John McCain picked a woman in 2008, and look at how that turned out,” I have two things to say to you:
1) don’t be a desperate misogynist
2) the mistake was is in who the pick was, not her sex/gender. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would have been a strong choice for the Republican ticket in 2008.

Realistically speaking, it’s likely that Romney will pick another white male as his running mate. An anachronistic white male presidential ticket may still win in November, but it’s clearly a step backward in U.S. politics. For a country as diverse as ours there is no reason not to have a diverse ticket. If Republicans truly believe that America is great, they should nominate a president and vice president that is more representative of her people.

From → Commentary

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