Petri: Face it; men just aren’t suited to serve as president

Not all men are Warren G. Harding, but should we risk electing a man to the nation’s highest office?

By Alexandra Petri

The Washington Post

The 2020 election is lurching toward us like a malfunctioning robot, and I think we must ask ourselves: Can we risk nominating a man for president?

Men selected as major-party nominees for president have failed to win the popular vote 50 percent of the time. Contrast that to the 100 perent of the time that a female nominee for president has won the popular vote.

More importantly, are Americans ready to withstand another four years of male presidency? It is unpleasant to traffic in stereotypes, and many men are in no way like this, but recent experience teaches that for usually 30 days a month (sometimes 31, occasionally 28), a male president will fall victim to irritability and irrationality that causes him to embarrass the nation abroad and make emotional decisions not based on math or information. It is good he thinks he is capable, and dreaming big is, of course, to be encouraged for all children! But we must not avert our gaze from the results.

We must think of the average voter. It is not fair, but we must do it! It is all very well, in an ideal world, to say men should be allowed to govern without having to battle against the ugly stereotypes of the man in the minds of voters; voters who, when they see who has been nominated, will only see their third-most-cherished uncle, or a science teacher who tried too hard to be friends with his students, or the source of a cruel and misspelled message on a dating app, or the creative team behind “Game of Thrones.” The voice of such a person, reminiscent as it is of being talked over during a meeting, will seem grating and unpleasant to the ear; somehow too loud and too soft and too high and too low at the same time. And men’s documented need for offices the temperature of a Siberian meat locker will make them seem weak and vulnerable abroad.

Male presidential candidates are noted for their inexplicable and sudden desires to do irrational things, such as assassinate Alexander Hamilton, create the Bull Moose Party or be John Edwards. And once they’re in office, this behavior continues. Sometimes, for no reason, a man will decide to throw himself a Teapot Dome Scandal or a Bay of Pigs, or decide to do things to the Philippines that we have yet to adequately reckon with as a country.

Not all men are Jacksons or McKinleys or even the fellows responsible for keeping Jackson’s loathsome visage on our twenties. But having to battle the presumption that they are will waste voters’ energy, energy better spent being genuinely excited by a candidate!

No, we cannot risk this again. There is just too much at stake to risk nominating the sort of person who, time and time again, has proved unable even to serve in a state legislature without becoming helplessly derailed by the desire to regulate a stranger’s uterus.

Of course, not all men fall into these broad categories! Some men are just weird about having one-on-one dinners with powerful women such as Angela Merkel or Theresa May, which will make it difficult for America to further its interests. Some men are the BTK Killer, whereas other men are only probably the Zodiac Killer.

But this election is too important for such experiments. When Americans look to the person in charge of their government, they should not just think of everything in the past that has gone wrong. There will be another time to attempt the noble trial of seeing whether this country can handle a 45th man as president, after Grover Cleveland twice and, Warren G. Harding! I mean, honestly, Warren G. Harding!

Men have had their chance. Let us not risk four more years of this. After the past 230, we have been warned.

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, May 26

A sketchy look at the day in the coronavirus pandemic (and politics).… Continue reading

Editorial: State officials’ pay raises poorly timed

Set by a citizen panel a year ago, the raises begin just as the state needs to make deep budget cuts.

Comment: The white privilege behind Biden’s ‘ain’t black’ quote

Believing black voters can be written out of group membership based on their vote is presumptuous.

Comment: Trump has name for those who tell truth: squealers

And their fate, as the White House Don has done frequently, is demotion or firing.

Snohomish barber has no right to threaten others’ health

It amazes me the intellectual ignorance of the citizens of our country… Continue reading

Mount St. Helens’ eruption offers COVID parallel

Recently I saw a TV interview with a woman from May 17,… Continue reading

Dam on Chehalis River would harm salmon, orcas

The Southern Resident orcas have captivated us for decades. To many of… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Monday, May 25, Memorial Day

A sketchy look at the day in the coronavirus pandemic (and politics).… Continue reading

Editorial: If not for yourself, wear face masks for others

Masks aren’t perfect, but studies are showing they can help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Most Read