Soyer: Consider more than gender when voting


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles at the audience during the photo spray before the start of the Democratic debate on Saturday, Nov. 14. The debate took place in Sheslow Auditorium on Drake University’s campus. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

Hannah Soyer
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Remember during the presidential election of 2008 when everyone was saying “People better not vote for Barack Obama just because he’s black” or “I’m going to vote for Barack Obama because it’s time we had our first black president.” I will admit that I said neither of these things but secretly thought that I didn’t really care why people voted for Obama, as long as he won.

Now, eight years later, I find myself saying something similar to one of the things repeated back in 2008: “I hope people don’t vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman.”

I may vote for Hillary. I may not. I’m not sure at this moment in the game. But one thing that doesn’t make much sense to me is to choose who you think would be the better president based on gender. This obviously goes both ways — people vowing not to vote for her because she’s a woman and people vowing to vote for her because she is. Either way, though, it’s not logical. I want the United States to have a female president, but this shouldn’t outweigh whether I feel this particular female candidate would be a competent leader, embodying the beliefs that I hold to be true.

On Jan. 16, Tsai Ing-wen became the first elected female president of Taiwan, rightly making worldwide news. Although other countries in Asia have had female leaders, Tsai is the only one who hasn’t had family also in politics. Tsai is also the chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party.

This is a huge step forward for feminism and for the entire world. At the same time, it is important to step back and look at the situation here in the United States — as a woman, Clinton would be seen as a feminist icon if she were elected president. As a feminist, I would love to say that the first presidential election I was old enough to vote in was the one in which we elected our first female president. However, there are more important issues at hand.

Who knows why some people vote for certain candidates? Clearly, there are often superficial reasons involved. Most of the time, this just reflects poorly on the person voting — oh, you voted for Ronald Reagan because you like his face? Well, aren’t you educated about politics.

But when you vote for people who are members of a minority or members of an underrepresented group solely because they are representative of the groups, you’re doing all the group members a disservice by continuing to only see them by that single characteristic, when really, people’s skin color or gender is just one tiny part of who they are. So when you’re considering whom to vote for this election, make sure you’re voting for them based on what they stand for, not just because they’re male or female.

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