While it may be nice when well-intending men from privileged groups (like Matt McGorry for example) advocate for the equal rights of the oppressed, marginalized groups deserve the spotlight when discussing and legislating their own issues. Cishet white men make up an overwhelming percentage of elected positions, and this group is trying to change that.
The Can You Not Political Action Committee (PAC) was started by a group of white dudes (yes we see the irony here) who realize it is not their place to decide everything, like they have been doing for the last several hundred years. On their website, the group is described as “a political action project that aims to dis/empower and dis/incline people in positions of privilege, specifically straight white men, from ambitions of running for office in progressive urban districts.” That’s right, the PAC is legitimately asking white dudes to simply not run, but for a good cause.
The PAC is not attempting to kick anyone out of power who is currently an elected official, and it is also not trying to take away anybody’s rights or privileges to run. The group is just trying to open up a dialogue about how unequal and therefore unfair the representation in Congress is. Instead of running for office, the Can You Not PAC suggests, these forward-thinking cishet white men can step down and make room for women, people of color, and LGBTQIAP+ individuals to run in the hopes of closing the gap of unequal representation in Congress.
While it may seem like “reverse bigotry” to ask white men to consider not running for office because they are white men, considering all the wacky laws that were passed or attempted to be passed by predominantly cisgender heterosexual white men in the past few years regarding women, people of color, LGBTQIAP+ folks, and more, a PAC like this is drastically important. The 114th Congress also has staggering inequalities when it comes to the representation of race and sex. The Senate is 94 percent white and 80 percent male, while the House of Representatives is 79.8 percent white and 80.6 percent male. This is by no means because “coincidentally other races, genders, and orientations are simply just not skilled enough to run,” but because perfectly skilled representatives are being actively ignored.
The lack of representation for people who are not white cishet men is the root of all these problems. Just look at North Carolina’s ongoing battle regarding House Bill 2, the infamous bathroom bill. Or Oklahoma, where a court ruled oral sex with an unconscious person is not rape, and where doctors can face time in prison for performing abortions. All of these rulings and bills are being passed about us, for us, and without us.
While the group are doing the decent thing, we also need to remember to prioritize the causes they support, over our support of the group itself, otherwise their message becomes counter productive.