No, not on the bus or subway – I think it’s taken that if you are gentlemen you will – but in life generally.
Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News (the American, not the Australian one), says yes:
As a white male Christian in America, I am part of a dwindling subset that has held the levers of power politically and economically in nearly every field for the entire history of the United States.
And though my Irish Catholic ancestors had to push to get a seat at the table, we are still a part of this dominant power group. Yes, the halls of power have slowly let in some people of color, women, people of a different faith, and people of a different sexual persuasion. But white male Christians still dominate the rooms where most decisions are made.
This must change in a much more dramatic way.
Instead of waiting for the diverse population of America to keep pushing and prodding, I would humbly suggest that we as white male Christians take it upon ourselves to step back and give more people who don’t look like us access to the levers of power.
We don’t have to wait, and our country is in desperate need of more diverse leaders. It is that diverse leadership which will not only represent more of what America looks like today, but it will give us the opportunity to find solutions which homogenous models of leadership aren’t able to.
Yes, let me repeat, we as white male Christians should do what real leadership demands and practice a level of humility which demonstrates strength by stepping back from the center of the room and begin to give up our seats at the table.
As many a commenter or retweeter has noted, Dowd should go first since he feels so strongly about the issue. No doubt there are many qualified and talented women who could be the chief political analyst for ABC News in his stead. Though that’s probably not quite as far as Dowd wants to take it: “I myself can do a much better job of this in both my personal and professional life. I don’t need to take the seat on the board of a company or a non-profit if others equally talented are standing by. I don’t need to always speak up or try to run meetings I happen to be in. I should interrupt less, and let others from diverse backgrounds share their thoughts.” How gracious of Dowd to decline any future company directorships! We should hold him to that.
Those who accuse people like Dowd of hypocrisy are in a way missing an important point. Of course every man at the moment is perfectly free to leave his job so that a woman can fill the vacancy, or not to contest an election or otherwise “step back from the centre of the room”. How many do? I would guess that it’s pretty close to zero. But if Dowd and company believed in freedom of choice and voluntarism they would classical liberals or libertarians. But they’re not, at least not in the economic sphere, though perhaps more so in the social one (the reverse is often true for those on the right). Dowd describes himself as a “Proud Independent” but he’s the sort of an Independent who has never expressed a remotely right-of-centre idea, Besides, as a chief political analyst on a news show he can hardly describe himself as a “Proud Progressive” or a “Proud Democrat”, at least publicly.
Even though Dowd’s approach seems akin to a voluntary challenge (“Let’s do this, guys. Let’s put the country first and our fellow humans ahead of our own egos. Let’s do this not out of a sense of insecurity that we are losing a hold on power, but out of a sense of security that others not like us can do the job better than we can at this time.”), the experience shows that “stepping back” will never happen voluntarily. Dowd himself is the best example.
The left believes in compulsion, in using the power of the state (legislative, judicial, enforcement) to make people do what those in charge think is best for them and/or the society. In many cases it involves forcing people to do or not do things against their will; others – like Dowd – already believe in the wisdom of the government policy, but they’re not satisfied with individual action (they never do it of their own volition) and instead want to make sure that everyone else bears the burden and feels the pain to achieve their (the government’s and Dowd’s) objectives.
This is the same argument that the left and the right are having about taxes:
The Left: People should be paying more in tax.
The Right: There is nothing stopping you if you believe that from paying more tax yourself, so why don’t you?
But the left’s ideas don’t work if only some people do it; everyone has to, not just because “fairness” and “equity” demand that everyone contributes and pays the price, but also because the left’s ideas are both very expensive and are centered around the wholesale social transformation, not partial fixes.
For the same reason that progressives won’t voluntarily pay more taxes, the progressive “white Christian males” will not give up their jobs, positions and influence voluntarily. They’re not into being the first movers. Thus Dowd’s “Let’s do this, guys” inevitably becomes “Let’s make the guys do it”. And so, closing the circle on the original point: is it hypocrisy? Certainly not for the left, which believes in collective action rather than individual choice. Chiding Dowd about not giving up his job at ABC might be fun but it’s another example of the two sides of politics speaking in different languages, or to be more precise the same vocabulary but obeying their own respective rules of grammar and syntax. Unless you actually understand how your opposite thinks you can’t have a real debate.
Meanwhile, we’re already seeing Dowd’s ideas in action, minus the personal encouragement:
This week, California became the first state to require publicly held corporations headquartered in the state to include women on their boards.
On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed 79 bills into law, 19 of which were part of a package aimed at supporting women, children and working families. Among them was Senate Bill 826, which requires any publicly held corporation headquartered in California to have a “representative number of women on its board of directors.” This would require hundreds of Californian companies to make changes to their current boards.In a signing message, Brown wrote that “[t]here have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised” that might “prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.” Still, he emphasized, “it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half of the ‘persons’ in America.”
As I have watched the last week of disruption and drama in Washington, a major part of this could have been avoided if white male Christians had more readily stepped back, and turned over leadership to those who are not the same sex, or the same color, or the same religion as us.