Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Women, Just Not These Two

A New York Times article on why men in politics are overwhelmingly more likely to be caught up in sex scandals than women in politics:
...Research points to a substantial gender gap in the way women and men approach running for office. Women have different reasons for running, are more reluctant to do so and, because there are so few of them in politics, are acutely aware of the scrutiny they draw — all of which seems to lead to differences in the way they handle their jobs once elected.

“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make, some issue that is a priority for them, and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path.”

Studies show that women are less likely to run for office; it is more difficult to recruit them, even when they have the same professional and educational qualifications as men. Men who run for office tend to look at people already elected “and say, ‘I’m as good as that,’ ” said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University here. “Women hold themselves up to this hypothetical standard no candidate has ever achieved.”
On the whole, all other things being equal, I'd say always vote for the woman - policy not personality driven, reflective, high standards. Precisely what we need and should want. But, of course, these qualities aren't universally female nor are the inverse universally male.

In fact, the distinction underscores one current political comparison - between Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann - as it might also between male politicians or male and female. They are traits, not biological essences. Although the risk of either in the White House scares the hell out of me, there is nonetheless a clear distinction to be made between Palin and Bachmann, even if they share the same ideology. Bachmann may be completely nutty, but her politics is policy-driven, however much one may find the policies execrable. Palin is a receptacle, a politics of personality for whom policy, feebly grasped, is shaped to fit personality (as is history).

If Palin were elected president, she might tend towards the tyrant as this appears to play well with her followers, but she would likely be a policy puppet of Kristol, et al. They would continue to prop up the personality, similar to the George W. Bush team, but run policy behind the personality. That would suit Palin just fine. If Bachmann were elected, as an experienced politician and office-holder, she would likely take the reins and truck no divergence in her administration.

Both hold a radical ideology and concomitant set of policy preferences, but only one has any kind of grasp of how ideology and policy fit together. I doubt that either could get the Republican nomination, but hypothetically-speaking which should one prefer if faced with this choice?

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