Is America “Ready” For A Gay President?

Despite poll numbers suggesting otherwise, one political analyst suggests that the United States may not be "ready" for a gay President.

With South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg continuing to enjoy a bounce in the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination, CNN’s Harry Enten notes that polling seems to suggest that the country is not “ready” for an openly gay President:

Poll of the week: A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 70% of voters (including 86% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic) say they are open to electing a gay president.The same poll also discovered, however, that only 36% of voters (including 40% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic) think the United States is ready to elect a gay president.

What’s the point: Right now, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is one of the top 5 contenders vying for the Democratic nomination process. He is a married gay man.

These poll results suggest that most Americans — and Democrats in particular — are open to electing him president, so long as he meets other qualifications.

Yet, it seems like Buttigieg may run into electability concerns for the simple reason that Democrats don’t think (perhaps wrongly if you believe this poll) the country is ready. It’s also possible that some voters are not willing to admit to homophobia, while signaling it by saying essentially, “I’m ready, but others may not be.”Either way, this poll suggests that Buttigieg might hit a wall in a Democratic primary in which voters are placing a high emphasis on the ability to beat President Donald Trump.

I should note that polling on whether the country is ready for a gay president differs significantly from polling on whether Americans thought the country was ready for a black president in 2007 or a woman president in 2015.A Fox News poll taken after then-Sen. Barack Obama declared in February 2007 found that 69% of Democrats and 69% of voters thought the country was ready to elect a black president. In other words, electability was less of a problem for Obama then than Buttigieg now.

Voters were even more sure that the country was ready to elect a woman president after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared a second bid for the presidency in April 2015. A CBS News poll conducted in the spring of that year showed that 89% of Democrats and 78% of all Americans said the country was ready for a woman president.

Interestingly, in all three instances, more voters said they were ready for a black, female or gay president than thought the country was ready for one.

But even if Americans are more tolerant of gay Americans than voters think they are, more are prejudiced against gay Americans than they were against black Americans in 2007 or women in 2014. Today, about a quarter of all voters (including 10% of Democrats) told Quinnipiac that they weren’t open to vote for a gay man for president. Back in 2007 and 2015, 5% or less of Americans and Democrats said they weren’t willing to vote for a qualified black person and woman to be president, respectively.

Prejudice against gay Americans is evident in other polling as well. About 35% of Americans openly admitted in the 2018 General Social Survey that they thought “homosexual sex relations” were almost always or always wrong. Even more than 25% of Democrats said it was almost always or always wrong.

Objectively speaking, of course, Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, and the fact that he is married to a man, is something that ought to be seen as irrelevant to the question of whether or not he would make a good President. More important to this question are issues such as whether his time as Mayor of a city of roughly 100,000 people, a position he has held for just seven years, is sufficient preparation for the far more difficult and complicated task of being President of the United States. Also seemingly far more relevant is the question of where he stands on the important issues of the day, what kinds of policies he would seek to implement if he did become President, whether or not he would be able to handle the difficult task of working with Congress regardless of which party controlled it, and of course how he would approach serious foreign policy issues and how he would perform on the world stage. At the primary level, Democratic voters will also have to take into account the question of how strong an opponent he would be against President Trump in a General Election. Taken together, all of these questions are far more important than his sexual orientation or the gender of his spouse.

It’s also somewhat ironic that Enten puts forward the idea that Americans may not be “ready” for a gay President at the same time that he cites the above-referenced Quinnipiac poll showing that 70% of Americans say that they would be fine with it, although a small majority, 52% to 36% say that the country isn’t “ready” for a gay President, a number which seems to reflect American’s perception of what other Americans would find acceptable. In that same poll, though, 85% of Democrats and 76% of Independents say that they would be open to the idea of a gay President. Among Republicans, the issue is more closely divided with 46% saying they are open to the idea while 45% say they are not. Indeed, among the major demographic groups, including age, gender, ethnicity, and age, the only demographic group that does not have a majority saying they are open to the idea are self-identified Republicans. On the second question of whether or not they believe America as a whole is “ready” for a gay President a majority of all the major demographic groups believes that the country as a whole is not ready.

Obviously, there’s something of a disconnect here. A majority of Americans and even a small plurality of Republicans are saying that they personally would be fine with a gay President but that they don’t believe a majority of Republicans would be. Perhaps this is a reading by the poll respondents of what they believe the cultural zeitgeist is at this point. Additionally, as Enten notes while homosexuality has become far more culturally acceptable than it was in the past, there are still pockets of the country where this is not the case and it’s possible that, in a close election, those people could end up making a difference if they end up opposing Buttigieg, or some future gay or lesbian candidate for President, because of his orientation.

In the end, though, I suspect that the nation is far more open to this idea than the poll numbers that Enten cites seem to suggest. Despite the poll numbers at the time, there were many people who doubted whether American was “ready” for an African-American President in 2008 and yet we elected Barack Obama. Prior to 2016, there were questions about whether or not America was “ready” for a female President, and yet Hillary Clinton managed to win her party’s nomination and a majority of the popular vote even though she felt short of actually winning the race for President itself. If Buttigieg wins the Democratic nomination, which still seems like a long-shot, then it will go a long way toward showing that the country is “ready” for a gay President. Moreover, if it doesn’t happen in 2020 I am sure that there will be some point in the future when a gay man or woman will end up being elected to the highest office in the land. At that point, there may still be people like Enten wondering if the nation is “ready” for a gay President.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, LGBT Rights, Public Opinion Polls, Society, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Just nutha says:

    I’ve always thought that it was somewhat ironic that in exit polls in 1992 something on the order of 30 or so percent of voters said that they would have voted for Perot except for the fact that 3rd party candidates can’t win. Maybe they were just spoofin us. This statistic has the same feel to me.

  2. Slugger says:

    I’m o.k. with it.

  3. steve says:

    I think the article is pretty much correct. A majority of people in the states that decide our elections are not ready to vote for a gay person. Large majorities in California or NY might be ready, but not so much in middle America, especially outside of the cities. Really, it will just become part of the Culture War. Remember that it took a long time until blacks were acceptable enough that whites would vote for them, and even then it took someone who was half white. (I suspect that half gay would be even worse.)

    Steve

  4. lynn says:

    I can’t imagine thinking it’s important. Now, a phobic president or a racist president or an antisemitic president or a sexist president … well, that’d be an issue. In fact, that was and continues to be an issue.

  5. Kathy says:

    According to the American Cultural Oracle (aka “The Simpsons”), the year will be 2084.

    Obviously, there’s something of a disconnect here.

    Of course. it’s like when you ask people to rate their driving skills, and all will say there are better than average.

  6. Kylopod says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. While there were people who doubted a black man with the middle name “Hussein” could be elected president, I was not among the doubters; I viewed Obama as a strong candidate from the start. In contrast, I have an underlying sense that the country now is less progressed on sexual orientation than it was on race in 2008.

    One problem I have with these “Is America ready for a [such-and-such] president?” questions is that it’s not a black-and-white, either-or matter. It depends on the circumstances. Obama might not have won if not for the Great Recession. The circumstances in 2008 were such that I think even an openly gay candidate, running as the Democratic nominee, would probably have won.

    The important question is whether it costs the candidate votes, and if so, how much. Let’s say a gay candidate is likely to do 2% worse in the popular vote than an otherwise identical straight candidate would. That’s a real problem that could prove fatal to the candidate’s chances. But the candidate still could win under the right circumstances.

    If Mayor Pete makes it onto the 2020 ticket, I don’t have any doubt that Republicans will do what they can to play on the homophobic fears of voters. I’m betting they’ll try to paint the devoutly Christian military vet as unmanly and irreligious. They’ll engage in whisper campaigns like the recent sexual assault hoax against him.

    One question is whether this can be counterbalanced by excitement around the historical nature of his candidacy. Obama greatly excited African American voters as well as others who were eager to see that historical barrier broken. Would a gay candidate have the same effect on gay (as well as straight) voters? I honestly don’t know.

  7. the abyss says:

    @lynn: And yet lots of Americans have no trouble at all voting for phobics, antisemites, racists, sexists, or even genderphobes.

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  8. Boyd says:

    I just wish I could vote in a Presidential election without regard to the candidates’ sexual orientation, racial background or anything else not related to how well I believe they would perform the duties of the office.

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  9. lynn says:

    @the abyss: “And yet lots of Americans have no trouble at all voting for phobics, antisemites, racists, sexists, or even genderphobes.”

    Yup … I guess I should be used to it, but it continues to boggle me.

  10. Jax says:

    I suspect the majority of the Republican voters that aren’t “ready” for a gay President also weren’t ready for a black or woman President.

    I want him to win just to watch Falwell and Graham flip out.

  11. Gustopher says:

    @Boyd: Why can’t you?

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  12. @Boyd:

    Nothing is stopping you from doing so.

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  13. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    I have mixed feelings about this. While there were people who doubted a black man with the middle name “Hussein” could be elected president, I was not among the doubters; I viewed Obama as a strong candidate from the start.

    Just because Obama was elected doesn’t mean that America was ready for a black president. If Biden (or your favorite white male plausible candidate from that era) was elected in 2008, I don’t think we would have seen the Tea Party, or the Trumpeters.

    Obama was a “socialist” because he was a n-clang. “Socialist” now means “n-clang-lover”.

    In contrast, I have an underlying sense that the country now is less progressed on sexual orientation than it was on race in 2008.

    I think you underestimate both America’s racism, and the progress gays have made in acceptance — so long as they are straight acting gays.

    I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a freak out on the right, or that America is ready for it, but a crisp, clean, articulate, straight-acting gay man is going to come across as more “presidential” than a black man or a woman. You can look at him, and not see the differences.

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  14. Just nutha says:

    @Boyd: Doug beat me to it. Good call, Doug!

    ETA: On further consideration, it could be that the thing stopping him is that in addition to all those other factors the candidate might need to have an (R) next to his (certainly not gonna be a “her”) name.

  15. de stijl says:

    Yes.

    At my first caucus after moving there (and the fist time citizens vote for candidates ever), I naively thought we were not capable of electing a black man so I initially went for Biden in ’08 – thought I was savvy for backing the electable guy. I was stupid!

    They were right, I was wrong. They got the zeitgeist, and I just missed it. Good on them.

    (In my defense, I did switch to Obama after the second vote; I’m stupid, not dense)

    If Obama wins twice, and HRC gets more votes than Trump, yes, Buttigieg can win the majority. Even Rs have gay friends.

  16. de stijl says:

    From Doug’s op:

    More important to this question are issues such as whether his time as Mayor of a city of roughly 100,000 people, a position he has held for just seven years, is sufficient preparation for the far more difficult and complicated task of being President of the United States.

    Remind me again of Trump’s resume…

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  17. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    If Biden (or your favorite white male plausible candidate from that era) was elected in 2008, I don’t think we would have seen the Tea Party, or the Trumpeters.

    Yes and no. I think it’s inevitable there will be a hysterical freakout on the right in response to any Democrat in the White House. We saw it under Bill Clinton, and if it was worse with Obama, that’s in part because the GOP worsened.

    I do think racial animus was revealed in the nature of the attacks against Obama, but not in the fact that he was attacked. A President Biden isn’t going to face a birther controversy, obviously, or be called a secret Muslim, a Kenyan anti-colonialist, an anti-white racist, and so on. But it came out in even more subtle things like the way they spoke about Obama “not sharing our values.” Bill Clinton was accused of murdering Vince Foster, but there wasn’t this constant attempt to paint him as foreign and alien the way there was with Obama. And yes, I see the rise of Trump as having flowed from white backlash against the first black president.

    At the same time, I think a President Biden elected in 2008 would have faced many of the same problems of absolute Republican obstruction, fake scandals, and an overall attempt to destroy him. That’s just what the GOP has become today, and while race is a big part of what animates their voters, at bottom they’re just ruthless power-seekers.

    Obama was a “socialist” because he was a n-clang. “Socialist” now means “n-clang-lover”.

    I don’t even think that’s new. The right has lobbed the socialist/communist slur against pretty much every Democrat going back to FDR (and even the occasional Republican, such as Eisenhower). And it was long connected to attitudes about race. MLK was called a communist; the Dixiecrats and the Birchers routinely engaged in red-baiting against blacks as well as white civil rights activists, where fighting against Jim Crow meant you were in league with Moscow.

    I think you underestimate both America’s racism, and the progress gays have made in acceptance

    I’m basing my views partly on personal experience, but there is some data to back it up. Look at the polling on interracial marriage, for example. The most recent Gallup poll on the question, taken in 2013, showed 87% approval. In contrast, support for SSM sits at about 67% approval currently, which is roughly where support for interracial marriage was around the late-’90s, early 2000s.

    For that matter, in 2007 Gallup reported that 94% of Americans said they’d be willing to vote for a black candidate, only 5% said they wouldn’t. In contrast, in their most recent poll from 2015, just 74% of respondents said they’d vote for a gay candidate, 24% said they wouldn’t (that’s roughly in line with the recent Quinnipiac poll cited earlier). So at minimum a lot more Americans openly express anti-gay attitudes in polls than anti-black attitudes.

    so long as they are straight acting gays.

    Agreed, but that applies to any stigmatized group–which I take you to have been alluding to in your use of the terms “clean, articulate.” Americans had an easier time voting for a biracial man who didn’t speak in a “Negro dialect,” who didn’t talk much about race and when he did it was usually in a comfortingly inclusive and non-confrontational way (“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America”). I’m reminded of the old quip about Barry Goldwater: “I always knew the first Jewish president would be an Episcopalian.” The “firsts” in American politics (and sports and entertainment and science and everything else) are generally going to be among the less threatening members of their group, which means the less different, the most like the majority group.

  18. de stijl says:

    First take impressions which will be disproved soon.

    Biden has issues re Anita Hill, long-term handsiness, and age. Beto is not yet ready. Warren could be the nominee, but has a stern schoolmarmish affect which she needs to negate just like Bernie does. Harris or Booker could creep up the charts, tho Harris has issues to address from when she was a prosecutor.

    Of all of the above, I’d pick Buttigieg to be the front-runner come next March. He’s squared-away and smart, and has minimal baggage.

    I might be underestimating the power of Sanders’ left-over good-will from 2016.

    Plus, there are like 14 more declared folks who I don’t recall and don’t know what they look like or their policy positions. Any (well, some) of which might jump up to the adults’ table between now and then.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Boyd: Serious question — do you not think that a candidate’s background and experiences is going to affect how they approach problems and prioritize issues?

    I would actually point to your own statement as an example — you might not have any particular bias against blacks, women or gays, but you seem to not want to be bothered with their existence. When you say that these qualities are irrelevant, you’re implying that their experiences are irrelevant.

    I’m a white man living in Seattle. I’m pretty oblivious to many of the problems that people of color face until it’s pointed out to me, and even then… eh… I’m not so great. It’s not that I think that these issues aren’t important, or that I think there should be biased policing or something, I just don’t think about these issues enough to prioritize them without someone coming by and reminding me.

    A woman President is likely to be far more concerned with “women’s issues” like housekeeping, raising children, cooking, etc. Ok, that’s 90% a terrible, offensive joke, but it’s not a surprise to me at all that it takes a woman candidate to be talking about subsidizing child care.

    You might not think subsidizing child care is a job for the federal government, and that’s a whole different issue, but there’s a reason that’s a major proposal from the Harris campaign and not the Beto campaign. Beto and Harris are both Democrats, both center-left, and both motivated by their experiences.

    So I’d ask you to ponder what you mean by “without regard to the candidates’ sexual orientation, racial background or anything else not related to how well I believe they would perform the duties of the office.”

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    For that matter, in 2007 Gallup reported that 94% of Americans said they’d be willing to vote for a black candidate, only 5% said they wouldn’t. In contrast, in their most recent poll from 2015, just 74% of respondents said they’d vote for a gay candidate, 24% said they wouldn’t (that’s roughly in line with the recent Quinnipiac poll cited earlier). So at minimum a lot more Americans openly express anti-gay attitudes in polls than anti-black attitudes.

    People can point to their religion as cover for openly expressing an anti-gay bigotry. It’s easier to say.

    Look at America right now. Do you honestly believe that only one in twenty would be unwilling to vote for a black man? A lot of people are lying.

    I don’t know that we can get good numbers on this, honestly.

    In the People’s Democratic Republic of Seattle, I see far more racist than antigay bigotry. Seattle is not America, but but I take this to mean that if racism runs deep here, it still runs deep everywhere else. There are at least pockets of America where gays are just kind of ignored and no one cares*.

    And yes, I see the rise of Trump as having flowed from white backlash against the first black president.

    At the same time, I think a President Biden elected in 2008 would have faced many of the same problems of absolute Republican obstruction, fake scandals, and an overall attempt to destroy him. That’s just what the GOP has become today, and while race is a big part of what animates their voters, at bottom they’re just ruthless power-seekers.

    We have Nazis and white supremacists marching and organizing in the open.

    Previous Republicanism was bad and moving worse. The Trumpy white supremacist movement is something else, something worse, that has been grafted onto the Republican Party during the Obama years.

    Trump is a symptom of the post-Obama Republican Party, but he’s not really a symptom of the pre-Obama Republican Party.

    ——
    *: I would not claim that transfolks are included in this.

  21. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Remind me again of Trump’s resume…

    The lack of Trump’s resume basically inoculates any D nominee. They can choose virtually anyone and no one can say “boo” on experience or requisite background.

    And to a large degree, fitness.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    I just wish I could vote in a Presidential election without regard to the candidates’ sexual orientation, racial background or anything else not related to how well I believe they would perform the duties of the office.

    I just wish that an overwhelming majority of the American people could vote in a Presidential election and not hold a candidate’s ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), or any other similar defining characteristic against that person…

  23. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Of all of the above, I’d pick Buttigieg to be the front-runner come next March. He’s squared-away and smart, and has minimal baggage.

    Interesting fact about Buttigieg: he was in the closet until 33. Not just professionally in the closet, but not out to family or friends. Chasten is his first serious relationship.

    I’m not sure what to make of that.

    He seems to have leapt from the closet fully formed, done a triple axel or some other fancy ice-skating thing, and then stuck the landing perfectly. Five years ago, wasn’t able to show his sexuality to anyone, then came out, found a great man almost immediately, recognized it, married the guy, and then adopted two dogs.

    This is more surprising than speaking Norwegian, or stopping by the hospital to act as a translator.

  24. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Dude was researching. Made sure he’d nailed all the angles.

    he was in the closet until 33.

    Lol, he even came out like a nerd! Kinda makes me like him more.

    Does he own a cute bungalow in Silver Lake?

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Look at America right now. Do you honestly believe that only one in twenty would be unwilling to vote for a black man? A lot of people are lying.

    Agreed. But I also think there are a lot more people who would not vote for a gay candidate than will admit it in polls. And actually it’s more complicated than that, as there are many people who in principle might be willing to vote for a gay or black candidate, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be susceptible to being influenced by certain kinds of negative attacks that play on their fears and prejudices. We already discussed how some voters have an easier time with a candidate of a particular group if they more closely resemble the majority group. And think of the right-wing support for candidates like Herman Cain or Ben Carson, who I’m sure attracted a sizable number of voters who simultaneously hated on the Kenyan Muslim in the White House; indeed, those “black best friend” candidates served a purpose to such voters in helping trying to convince themselves and others that they weren’t being racist when they attacked Obama.

    In the People’s Democratic Republic of Seattle, I see far more racist than antigay bigotry.

    That’s not surprising. Seattle–and Washington more generally–is not a very religious area, but it is a very white area.

    Trump is a symptom of the post-Obama Republican Party, but he’s not really a symptom of the pre-Obama Republican Party.

    I disagree. I think this is something that’s been coming in stages, and it has its earliest roots in the late-’60s with George Wallace’s independent bid and Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

  26. de stijl says:

    It took me about 30 seconds after meeting someone who would be one of my later best friends that Kurt (fake name) was gay. This was the early 80’s, so you had to be fairly boldish to be out even at school and in a cool neighborhood.

    It took him like a dozen years to come out, and it was really anti-traumatizing for him in that everyone already knew and didn’t care – all his friends, his parents, his siblings, his boss, his colleagues. Everyone was like “Cool! Awesome! Be you!”

    He’d envisioned this stark difficult journey in his head. His no-drama coming out sort of bummed him out in a way (we talked about it way later). It was a like a let-down in his head that everybody didn’t care or no one freaked out.

  27. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    The lack of Trump’s resume basically inoculates any D nominee.

    Oh yeah? Just like Clinton was inoculated from attacks based on her age because Trump was older? Just like Jared’s emails inoculated Crooked Hillary? Just like Mr. Handsiman is inoculated from attacks by Mr. Pussygrabber?

    When did shameless hypocrisy ever stop them before?

  28. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    It’s inoculation because no one outside of the tribe grants those rebukes any credence. They may have resonated within RWNJ circles, but not out.

  29. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: The emails resonated. I think the “Hillary pneumonia” stuff definitely resonated. Her polls reached the worst point of the entire campaign (worse than even just before the election, in fact). She only recovered with the debates and the Access Hollywood fiasco (and then he recovered with the Comey letter, but I digress).

  30. Teve says:

    @Kylopod:

    Oh yeah? Just like Clinton was inoculated from attacks based on her age because Trump was older? Just like Jared’s emails inoculated Crooked Hillary? Just like Mr. Handsiman is inoculated from attacks by Mr. Pussygrabber?

    When did shameless hypocrisy ever stop them before?

    Speaking of nuclear-powered weapons-grade hypocrisy check out this tweet someone just dug up

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    For the sake of transparency,
    @BarackObama
    should release all his college applications and transcripts–both from Occidental and Columbia.

    4:53 PM · Jul 17, 2012 ·

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  31. Guarneri says:

    I don’t give a damn if a candidate is gay, Black, Hispanic, female, Jewish etc. I care about policy. It seems to me the overwhelming majority of people who care are Democrats, or at least so called progressives. They are obsessed with it.

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  32. Jax says:

    @Guarneri: I’m curious how you think “I care about policy” squares with Trump? There were, what, 15 other candidates in the Republican primary, and at least 5 had better policies beyond “Build the Wall”, “Lock Her Up”, and “Trade Wars Good”.

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  33. Kylopod says:

    @Guarneri:

    I don’t give a damn if a candidate is gay, Black, Hispanic, female, Jewish etc… It seems to me the overwhelming majority of people who care are Democrats, or at least so called progressives.

    Funny, then, that the Republican Party just happens to end up being mostly white, male, straight, Christian, etc., while the Democratic Party is as diverse as the country itself. Why would that be if the Republicans don’t care about those things? The answer is that Republicans do care, they just pretend not to.

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  34. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    “I don’t give a damn if a candidate is gay, Black, Hispanic, female, Jewish etc. I care about policy the letter in parentheses next to the name that’s all that matters.

    FTFY. No thanks necessary.

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  35. @de stijl:

    Trump has been a crappy President. His lack of previous experience is therefore an argument against electing such candidates in the future

  36. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the reason he’s a crappy president isn’t because of lack of experience, it’s because he’s a moron. He’s been on the job more than two years and has learned absolutely nothing. If he had come to the office with a real qualification under his belt (say, governor of NY) I would fully expect his presidency to be as big a disaster as it currently is.

  37. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    Remind me again of Trump’s resume…

    I see this response all the time and don’t get it. If you’re talking electability, then, sure, Trump proves that it’s an obstacle that can be overcome. If you’re talking about whether it’s a good idea to elect someone with so little experience, Trump would seem ample evidence that, no, it is not.

  38. Boyd says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nothing is stopping you from doing so.

    Sure thing, Doug. As soon as you stop thinking about that pink elephant in the room with you. Think of anything else but the pink elephant. Whatever you do, don’t think of the pink elephant.

    I’ll stop before I descend into ad hominem.

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  39. steve says:

    Seems like electing Trump is more an argument against electing someone with bad ideas and bad character more than it is against a lack of experience. Trump also warns us to look at how people became wealthy and “successful” not just take wealth as a marker for competence.

    Steve

  40. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: yeah, I don’t think Trump’s lack of experience was really the determining factor here. The aggressive ignorance, refusal to learn, amorality, laziness, pathological lying…

  41. Jen says:

    Trump’s lack of experience isn’t as much of a problem to his presidency as *thinking he knows EVERYTHING.* He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t take advice, he doesn’t hire good people–especially those who make him look even dumber than he is–and the few good ones he did manage to get on board are almost universally gone.

    I have no doubts at all that IF Buttigieg were to somehow get the nomination and win that he would: a) take advice from those more experienced than he; and b) would hire smart people and LISTEN TO THEM.

  42. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Boyd:

    As soon as you stop thinking about that pink elephant in the room with you. Think of anything else but the pink elephant. Whatever you do, don’t think of the pink elephant.

    So the thing that’s stopping you from “vot[ing] in a Presidential election without regard to the candidates’ sexual orientation, racial background or anything else not related to how well I believe they would perform the duties of the office” are any reminders of a candidate’s sexual orientation or racial background?

    That’s…bizarre.

    I mean, I guess once an LGBTQ candidate is nominated, theoretically all chatter about that person’s sexual orientation could cease, and you could vote without being reminded that that person is LGBTQ, but I don’t see how that realistically comes about.

    How does this work with race?

  43. James Joyner says:

    @Boyd: Your point here is too cryptic, I think. I, for one, can’t figure out what it is that you’re trying to get across.

    Are you engaging in media criticism, arguing that it would be easier to focus on the issues if the media stopped focusing on identity issues?

    Are you pointing to implicit bias, arguing that human beings, yourself included, are naturally going to factor in identity issues even if we claim to be focusing only on the issues?

    Something else?

  44. Boyd says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: Nice strawman, Neil. It’s much easier to “win” when you put words in the other guy’s mouth.

  45. Boyd says:

    @James Joyner: I’m primarily referring to media coverage, but that admittedly stems from how people at large approach the subject.

  46. James Joyner says:

    @Boyd: This is something of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, no? If the press ignores identity issues with outlying candidates, conservatives would—rightly in my view—object to ignoring the elephant in the room. When they draw attention, though, they’re accused of engaging in identity politics.

    Obviously, charges of bigotry get thrown about and this makes rational discussion challenging. But, in the case of homosexuality, lots of Americans have moral objections, whether based on religion, cultural background, or whathaveyou. I think it’s perfectly reasonable, then, to ask the question that’s the title of the post. Indeed, while I think we’re more ready than we would have been a decade ago, I’m not sure that, as a country, we are.

  47. @Boyd:

    Well the fact that Barack Obama was the nominee of the Democratic Party in 2008, and eventually elected President, is historically significant. Prior to him, only a handful of African-Americans had run for President and none of them came close to winning either so when he did it, it was historically significant.

    The same is true of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Several women had run for President before but none of them, save HRC herself in 2008, had come close to winning. The fact that she was the first female nominee for President of a major party was historically significant.

    Although I don’t think he will be the nominee for POTUS (perhaps the Dem running mate), the same would be true of Buttigieg.

    For that reason, I think the media attention on the fact that he is an openly gay man married to another man is justified.

  48. Boyd says:

    @James: I’m not fooling myself that there’s a viable solution to this. I’m just lamenting that this is the status quo, and wishing that there were a better way.

    I guess my point is that while we can’t really make it much better, we sure can make it worse by emphasizing it and making it a bigger deal than it really is.

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  49. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Boyd:

    I didn’t put words in your mouth. I responded directly to what you said, even quoting you. If I misinterpreted your point, please clarify what your point was.

    Also, what do you mean by “winning?”

    EDIT: Which you have now done, after multiple people pointed out your writing was indeed cryptic.

    If your point is poorly made, it’s not the reader’s fault for misinterpreting your poor writing.

  50. James Joyner says:

    @Boyd:

    I guess my point is that while we can’t really make it much better, we sure can make it worse by emphasizing it and making it a bigger deal than it really is.

    I think that’s a fair point (and that it wasn’t obvious from your initial comments that’s what you were trying to communicate). I think you’re right that harping on Buttigieg’s sexual orientation highlights it. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing: to the extent that people aren’t ready for it, it’s best to find out now rather than in November. And, as with John Kennedy’s Catholicism and Barack Obama’s blackness (and alleged Muslim affiliation), putting it out in the open may ultimately make it less of an issue by making it less scary.

    Indeed, part of change on this particular issue—but perhaps all prejudices—is exposure. Living in rural Alabama twenty years ago, the only openly gay people I encountered were stereotypically flamboyant types who just didn’t give a damn what people thought and the weirdos on TV wearing leather chaps with their ass cheeks hanging out of them. The combination of the introduction of otherwise normal gay and lesbian characters in popular culture, the coming out of more-or-less normal celebrities, and encountering gay and lesbian professionals once I moved to the DC area all changed my perspective considerably. Maybe Pete Buttigieg and his hubby will further that effect societally: “Well, they seem like decent folks. Maybe there are more of them . . . .”

  51. Boyd says:

    I apologize, Neil. I did a poor job of reading your comment, and “read” something you didn’t write.

    I don’t really think my objection is practical. I wish we could deal with people as they are instead of as a part of their group. Just as I wish the media (in the term’s broadest sense, which would include blogs and social media) wouldn’t contribute to the notoriety of mass murderers and the like. Neither one is going to happen, but a man can dream.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Boyd: Well said

  53. MarkedMan says:

    (This is truly not meant to single out anyone here.) One of the most useless statements in our language today is “I’m not prejudiced”. People who are not very prejudiced say it, but so do the most ingrained bigots. In fact, there is a story in the paper today about a small town in Georgia that was looking to hire an administrator. The mayor reportedly said that although a black applicant was the best qualified she wouldn’t hire him because “the town wasn’t ready for that”. When a councilman was asked for comment he said the mayor was probably right. “This isn’t Atlanta” he said, where all kinds of things go on. Then the councilman went on to share his beliefs on interracial marriage. It turns out it makes his blood boil. You see, he was raised a proper Christian. But no worries, he tells us he’s not prejudiced. He’s got black friends, you see.

    So I try to avoid making any such claim myself.

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  54. wr says:

    @Boyd: “I just wish I could vote in a Presidential election without regard to the candidates’ sexual orientation, racial background or anything else not related to how well I believe they would perform the duties of the office.”

    What’s stopping you?

    Oh, asked and sort of answered. Never mine!

  55. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    One of the most useless statements in our language today is “I’m not prejudiced”.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that specific phrase today. Of course people say “I’m not racist”; “I’m not homophobic”; “I’m not a bigot”; and so on. But the term “prejudiced” (and particularly the denial of being so) has largely fallen by the wayside.

    The mayor reportedly said that although a black applicant was the best qualified she wouldn’t hire him because “the town wasn’t ready for that”

    In the original movie version of Hairspray, the mayor of Baltimore (played in a dual role by Divine, who also plays Mrs. Turnblad) exclaims “Baltimore is not ready for integrated dancing!”

    But no worries, he tells us he’s not prejudiced. He’s got black friends, you see.

    “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

    I’ve mentioned this before, but when this story was first reported on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog in 2009, from that point on it became a running joke among the commenters that whenever there was a bigot who denies being a bigot, we’d say “He lets them use his bathroom.”

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  56. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Boyd:

    I appreciate your reply.

    For what it’s worth, I largely agree with your overall point, I’m just not sure it’s something that can be combated, or something that’s even unique to our age. Historical firsts–or potential firsts–are going to be given air time more than they rightly should receive, and at the cost of discussing their policy goals, temperament, ability, etc.

  57. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Kylopod:

    I had forgotten about that story, but remember well when Coates published it. I just googled the judge in question, and I’m happy to report that he was successfully pressured to resign a month after the story broke. Hopefully the same thing happens to the two gov’t officials in Alabama.