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A Bunch of White Dudes Are Asking Other White Dudes To “Take A Step Back” This Election

A political PAC of “brogressives” wants to promote women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates by telling “mediocre” straight white guys to go away


White men may only comprise roughly 30% of our U.S. population, they still dominate our political leadership, making up 65% of America’s elected officials, according to 2014 data gathered by the Who Leads Us project. To quote one non-white guy, the Dalai Lama: “A genuine change must first come from within...” Which may explain why one Colorado group of “brogressives” who claim be to comprised of straight white males, is asking their fellow privileged homies to do the country a favor: Stay out of electoral politics. The PAC, called Can You Not seeks to discourage straight white men from running for office in Colorado's diverse districts, with the aim that their absences will allow more qualified, but underrepresented candidates to run—and win.

This is a logical progression of the internet’s meming of misandry. In January 2015, writer Sarah Hagi summed it up in a tweet that would become iconic (and reprinted on many an Etsy tote bag): “God give me the confidence of a mediocre white dude.” For her, it was a “daily prayer to combat impostor syndrome,” an affliction that most prevalently haunts successful women of color who fear that their accomplishments are the result of luck rather than hard work and competence. There’s also evidence of a gender-based “confidence gap,” proving men overestimate their abilities while women underestimate theirs. Other studies have repeatedly shown that white men are “perceived as more likeable, hireable, and trustworthy than other groups.”

All this is to say that there are real issues at the heart of what seems like a gag. "We know that men are more likely to look in the mirror in the morning and think, 'Wow, I'd be great at Congress.' Women need to be asked over and over by their communities,” Jack Teter, one of the founders of Can You Not, told Colorado Public Radio.

Here’s a (kinda confusing, but still interesting) chart featured on the Can You Not site, that brings data to that dilemma. By launching this PAC and bringing attention to the factors that make everyone who’s not a straight white guy less likely to run for office, they’re at least making the issue more visible.

Graphic by Jessica Schillinger

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