As long as we are questioning the culture…

Maybe you all can help me with a question my eight year old nephew asked me a few years ago that just about floored me.
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Upon a visit to the Presidential Museum, he asked “why are all the Presidents white and why are they all men?”

Any answers?

14 responses to “As long as we are questioning the culture…”

  1. April Avatar

    Very simply: the United States of America was founded by European immigrants (the white part of the equation) whose culture–like most of the world’s culture–limited most education and leadership (although not all) opportunities to men. While that is not the current make-up of our culture, that is our founding scenario which obviously has a profound effect on our view of leadership, etc. What about Native Americans, blacks, and other, more recent immigrants of color? Well, there are obvious historic facts detailing why we have remained ruled by (primarily) white men for so long. Is it just? Is it changing? What effect will changes in ethnicity and gender in leadership have? Those are some questions that, to me, are more intriguing.

  2. W. E. Messamore Avatar
    W. E. Messamore

    I guess we could look at it statistically… the majority of politicians go into that field from law, the majority of lawyers are white men, ergo…

    I think your nephew will soon find his question dated 😉

    (unfortunately the man who will make his question obsolete is going to wreak some major havoc on our country)

  3. Carrie Avatar

    Yep, last eight years has just been peachy.
    I mean that lawyer…oh I mean failed business man that worked his way into…oh I mean inherited his way into Yale and the White House is completely representative of a working system.

    My point with this entry was to really question the culture. I believe, and I think history and an analysis of our media will show, we aren’t governed by a bunch of white men because they are the ones that go to law school. We are governed by white men because they hold the power because we have institutionalised a system of sexism and racism in this country. Its been 44 years since the civil rights amendment and 88 since women where counted as citizens. And yet in the hall of power this is poorly reflected.
    Its not good enough to say that this is just the way its always been, because as a society we need to be getting better. And its too easy to say that white men are just the people we see as leaders because that ignores all of our country’s issues.

    I sincerely hope that my nephew’s question will be dated very soon.

  4. W. E. Messamore Avatar
    W. E. Messamore

    Hey, never mind the sarcasm- I’m in total agreement with you as to the trainwreck of an administration we’ve had for eight years now. I think few people who are earnestly “questioning the culture” will actually conclude that our current president has done anything but make a mess of things.

    It does not follow from this premise, that Barack Obama will be any different- I’m confused why you jumped to criticizing Bush from my claim that Obama would wreak havoc. Whether Bush was a good or bad president has little to do with this claim. I think with Obama, we’ll just be “falling off the horse on the other side.

    As for your nephew’s original question- I do agree with you that Americans have inherited a racist/sexist system. Thank goodness we are making progress. If a woman, non-white person, homosexual… or whatever the difference may be… wants to run for president, there’s no reason why that person should be evaluated any differently because of their sex/race/orientation.

    Once we truly achieve a society like this however, I don’t know that the end result will be a political system that perfectly mirors society’s demographics. Or that this should be our goal or measure of success (for the reason implicit in my comment regarding statistics and laywers). Is that fair?

  5. Carrie Avatar

    Okay, fair enough. But before we stop or keeping going with this conversation, I would, with all sincerity, like to know why Obama would “wreak some major havoc on our country”

    I obviously think that Obama will help get this country out of the mess we have been in, while McCain won’t. But I keep hearing people say that are afraid of Obama winning. So what exactly is so scary?

  6. W. E. Messamore Avatar
    W. E. Messamore

    I believe earnestly that socializing medicine would have the exact opposite of its intended effect. Rather than create a wide swath of middle-class Americans who have access to decent health care, it will divide our country into two classes… the very rich who can afford good private health care, and the rest of us who will have government-provided, not so great quality health care.

    It will also likely reduce the amount of R&D that is done in our country. America does a whopping 90% of the medical R&D in the world. Most medical breakthroughs in the past few decades have come from here. That does have something to do with our system not being entirely socialized like that of the Europeans or the Canadians. If we want to find cures and treatments for breast cancer, HIV, AIDS, and other diseases, we'd best not socialize our country's medicine.

    In terms of taxes, the kinds of taxes that Obama proposes to levy will hit small businesses hard. Owners and operators of small businesses will be right at the bottom of that upper bracket that will get hit with higher taxes. This will devastate our economy. Carter ran on economic issues and promised to fix things. At the end of his first and only term, things were far worse than at the beginning of it. I predict Obama's presidency will follow the same pattern as Carter's.

    I'm also not a fan of Obama's position on the unborn.

    Having said all of this… please let me emphasize that I am not therefore a fan of McCain's. I'm not even voting for McCain. I don't think he'd be much better. I'm rather underwhelmed by the candidates this year.

  7. April Avatar

    Underwhelmed is a good word for it.

    Sis, been mulling the original question more, or rather a version: why aren’t there more women and minorities in political office now after years of citizenship and equal rights. One of the things that struck me with regards to women (and this is just my anecdotal observations, though I’m sure someone has data somewhere.) Women in politics are more apt to be issue oriented. See the abortion issue on both sides, largely composed of women. I suspect the same thing is true of minorities, although I’m not sure. There political action tends to be geared toward civil rights/ issue affecting their communities, etc. Whereas white men seem to be more likely to get involved in “just” politics. Or rather, be more active within political parties and be more willing to pay their dues to the party in lower level offices, etc. That type of political activity pays off more when it comes to getting higher political office.

  8. Carrie Avatar

    I just saw this so here is my reaction and I will write more when my three month old gives me back my other hand. please ignore the typos.

    First there is already two Americas ….maybe three. The insured, the under insured (that’s me and that number grows each year) and the uninsured (like my small business man father who can’t get health care because he actually needs it) .

    Second, Finland has the most amazing social welfare system while also being innovative. Also it was some French men that “discovered HIV and a German that “discovered” HPV….and asprin:)

    Third, about that tax thing. How many small business men make over 250,000 each year? This I will write more about later. But let it be know I would be more than happy to pay more in taxes if it meant I could go to the doctor without going further in the hole or have walked away from University without a houseless mortgage.

    Forth, I am also pro-life, and was a single issue voter for a long time. However, now I believe there is more to it. For instance how can a politician say they are pro-life but try to reduce the CHIPS program. I think if we are to protect life then we need to say we will do what it takes to remove the barriers women see when questioning what to do with their babies. Of course I would go on to include paid maternity leave, minimum wage increase, etc.

    I obviously have a very different world view from you and my sister. Being a pro-life progressive means I have a very different world view then most people. I know I won’t change your views because like mine they must be shaped by what you see and experience in your life. What I see and experience and spent a good deal of time researching, is that a good percent of people are struggling, and its not charity that they need or to work harder ( I bet you they already do), what they need is a change to the social order….Yes my mother thinks I’m a little pink too. I don’t think I am at all. I like the idea of Americans being able to support themselves and their families on a single income. I like the idea of America that pays fairly for unskilled and semi-skilled labor. I like the old Keynesian system of economics. And while Obama is a Milton Friedman believer I still find him more appealing than anyone else and feel confident that his world view will actually help the people that have been waiting for that trickle of prosperity since the Reagan era.

  9. Carrie Avatar

    April, Do you mean white men are more “flexible” in their belief system?

  10. Anonymous Avatar


    I want to understand your post better. I’ve found this thread fascinating.

    What do you mean in reference to you spent a good deal of time researching and that a good percent of people are struggling and what they need is a “Change to the Social Order…” That could mean a lot of things. What do you mean by “a change to the social order”? Can you share the research you have on that and what specific policies will effect a change to the social order?

    Also, can you post how many small businesses make over $250K? You promised more later. And do Obamas policies clearly state whether that’s gross or net income? Because that would drastically change the number of businesses affected by proposed tax policies.

    Also, where can I find the information on Finland’s amazing social programs? And is there anything specifically about Obama’s proposed healthcare programs that lead you to believe they’d be modeled after Finland’s? Because after spending 3 years traveling quarterly with my family to canada and having conversations with Canadians about their healthcare, as well as having family members who are British citizens, I don’t find the Canadian or English national healthcare programs attractive at all (this is coming from another who is under-insured and would love to see a solution to the healthcare crisis in this country–just don’t think either candidate has the solution).

    You stated earlier that you obviously think Obama would help get this country out of the mess its in. Can you give the specifics? What policies will address which specific messes? I want to participate in the discussion of this topic, but I first want to understand the statements that have already been posted on the topic.


  11. April Avatar

    Dude, the joint is jumping!

    Sis, no, not necessarily more flexible. I think that women are more apt get involved in issue politics to affect that one issue, while men are more apt to get involved in the party system to be involved in the overall decision-making and effect many issues. Politics is ugly. I know I was repulsed by both Young Dems and College Republicans in college, so I went the single-issue route. I think men may not be as bothered by the “messiness” and compromise of party politics.

    (BTW, Heidi is the Heidi you know through me.)

  12. April Avatar

    Sis, you and I do have a very different worldview. You would be “happy to pay more taxes” to receive benefits from the government (and government regulations) while I’d be happy to pay less taxes for more liberty.

    I don’t think it follows that just because someone opposed government programs to meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable that they are somehow opposed or indifferent to those groups. In fact, conservatives give more of their own money, voluntarily (i.e. charity) than liberals. (I also don’t think that liberals care less about vulnerable than conservatives just because they are unwilling to give their own money. FWIW and to head off that complaint.)

  13. Carrie Avatar

    Hey, Heidi
    Not ignoring you, just trying to figure out and answer to your question without just sending you my Masters thesis:)

    April, I think you will find a response to your post in the one I complete to Heidi. However, I would be interested in knowing what liberties you are lacking.

    Get back to you soon.

  14. April Avatar

    By definition any law is an infringement on liberties. Any time the state says "you can't" or "you must", I have lost liberty. I must relinquish some liberties in order to live at peace with my neighbors and to pursue prosperity. Any government intrusion is a loss of liberty. Given the size of our governments & legal codes, those losses (even those I gladly give) are too numerous to count.

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