If you didn’t catch last tuesday nights (April 22) episode of The Daily Show I highly recommend looking it up. It’s one of the best episodes of the show I’ve seen and it features an interesting interview with Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren.
Now because I’m a blogger with nothing better to do, I’d like to be nit picky with one of the statements I heard in the interview with Senator Warren. Women in politics was the subject of the episode and the topic was discussed quite thoroughly. At one point Senator Warren mentioned how there are now currently 20 women serving in the US Senate. She then went to say something along the lines of “lets see the day there are at least 50 women in the US Senate.”
I’m going to pick on this because on the surface I think this is a wonderful idea but if we think about it, the statement isn’t exactly reflective of equal rights principles. To me this doesn’t sound like a statement that concerns itself with making sure no one is discriminated against for their gender. It sounds like it’s concerned more with just the numbers (there is a case for numbers being important when it comes to politicians fairly representing the public but I’ll get to that at the end).
If we take the numbers too seriously we might see something along the lines of this hypothetical example. Say the US Senate wants to ensure that there is an even amount of men and women in the senate. Each state then gets to elect one male and one female to represent their state in congress. One of these imaginary states has two possible candidates who far exceed any of the others. These two candidates are the ideal choices of the people but there is a problem. The two candidates are both female. Now because we are making sure the senate is split evenly, one of the two candidates must step down to make room for a less than competent male candidate.
If we are more concerned with numbers and not who the best potential candidate is, our political system will suffer. If things like gender do not matter then we shouldn’t discriminate because of gender. This is why I think everyone should be held to the same standard regardless of their race, gender, or whatever else the media sees. Following this idea not only ensures we are consistent with our principles (gender discrimination being wrong), but it also ensures that we pick the best possible candidates for the job. It’d be a real shame to see good candidates being turned down because their ethnic/gender slot has already been filled. That is discrimination.
Do keep in mind though that if the numbers are suspect then we should take them into consideration. If there are only 20 women in the senate we should investigate and make sure everyone is truly being held to the same standard. I’d like to see that number higher, but that number is not what we should be ultimately concerned with. Making sure everyone is given the same opportunities and that no one is excluded because of physical differences is my ultimate concern.
The empowerment of women must be taken seriously. If there are women out there who can do a better job than the men currently in position, those women should replace those men. We should be concerned with guaranteeing equal rights to everyone so that the best possible candidates are elected to the position we are concerned with. We must get over being distracted by someone being male or female. Getting rid of discrimination is one of the best ways we can improve our society because it ensures that the best are on the job, regardless of what they look like.