Vote for Women Because They’re Smart and Qualified Not Because They’re Women

City Commission candidates, from left, Tim Flakoll, incumbent Tony Gehrig, Liz Maddock-Johnson, Kelan Oster, incumbent Dave Piepkorn and Mike Williams participate in a forum Tuesday, May 8, at North Dakota State College of Science in Fargo. Kim Hyatt/The Forum

The politics of identity is the worst sort of politics.

A recent example, columnist Jane Ahlin insisting that Fargo citizens ought to vote for women in the municipality’s city commission race simply because they’re women.

Cutting through the torturous metaphor about the Kingdom of Ograf (Fargo backwards), Ahlin says people who voted against past female candidates were sexists:

There was much grousing about the situation as people realized the all-male commission made the kingdom look like a throwback to Neanderthal times when Mad Men ruled Madison Avenue (and everything else?). Sadly, some citizens suggested it was women’s own fault they didn’t get elected. Women who ran were “inexperienced” or “not in the pipeline” or they “lacked charisma” or they “didn’t look like a commissioner.” This foolish mindset became known as, “Sure I’ll vote for a woman, just not that woman—or that woman or that woman or that woman…”

Ahlin seems to be ignoring the fact that voters cast their ballots against previous female candidates because they really were (at least in the eyes of voters) inexperienced.

Are we to believe that a female candidate couldn’t possibly be running for an office she isn’t prepared for?

There’s something pretty gross about being asked to support candidates based on nothing other than their gender. Ahlin would like us to believe that Fargo voters have spent too much time considering the qualifications of female candidates and not enough time considering the need for gender balance on the commission.

Which is ridiculous. And insulting to those women campaigning for these offices, I think.

If they win, are we to assume that their victories are owing to electoral affirmative action and not the merits of their campaigns? Based on Ahlin’s argument I guess we should, but that’s not very fair to the candidates themselves.

Here’s a thought: How about we consider candidates based things like policy positions, governing philosophies, life experiences, and demonstrated competencies as opposed to which set of genitalia they’re sporting?

If you’re voting for people (or against them, for that matter) based on their gender you’re not a good person, whatever your motivations.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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