Is it Reasonable to Cast a Sexist Vote?

In this post, a fellow WordPress blogger seems tormented over her choice to vote for Hillary and gives readers a chance to convince her if she’s right or wrong.

Here at One Reasonable Person, I care nothing for right or wrong, so I won’t engage her on that front. My concern is whether the decision is reasonable.

Let’s take a look:

Why then, if my own beliefs and interests align more with the Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, am I voting for the centrist Clinton? One very powerful and completely sexist reason: She is a woman. Yes, the fact that Clinton is female is overshadowing all of her negatives, and erasing all of Sanders’ positives. It is totally sexist. And I know it and freely admit it, even if I am not actually proud of it.

Powerful stuff that raises two questions:

Question 1: If you’ve put as much thought and, dare I say, reasoning into a problem as this blogger has, can the ultimate decision be considered unreasonable? Stated another way: Is reasonableness absolute or subjective?

While I’d like to say that any well-considered opinion has to be considered reasonable, I just can’t get there. Let’s say that I’m a rapper and, after much research, I’ve decided that the evidence conclusively proves that the earth is, in fact, flat.

Since the earth is round, the opposing viewpoint is unreasonable no matter how much time is spent considering it. Granted, my example has the benefit of being on a subject that can be conclusively proven, but I think the point drawn translates.

I respect greatly the amount of consideration the blogger has given this subject, but I have to conclude that the decision could possibly be unreasonable.

Question 2: Is it inherently unreasonable to cast a vote for sexist reasons?

My initial thought is that a male deciding not to vote for a woman due to gender would be roundly criticized as being unreasonable. I’m not sure that popular opinion is best suited to define reasonableness, however, and there are many arguments that could be made about whether my example properly relates to the blogger’s dilemma. For those two reasons, I’m uncomfortable applying the judgment garnered from my initial thought to the situation.

More relevant, I think, is the question, “What factors are reasonable when determining voting choices?” Consider (note that candidates are listed in alphabetical order):

  • Bush! I’ll vote for him.
  • Carson most authentically represents his faith. I’ll vote for him.
  • Clinton has the most experience. I’ll vote for her.
  • Cruz is the most disliked by the Republican establishment. I’ll vote for him.
  • Kasich … uh … has momentum. I’ll vote for him.
  • Rubio is the most visually appealing. I’ll vote for him.
  • Sanders will stick it to the man. I’ll vote for him.
  • Trump makes me laugh. I’ll vote for him.

I think that, if you’re of the viewpoint that you should only vote for the person best able to do the job, you have to find the blogger’s choice unreasonable (given her stated feeling that Sanders would do a better job). If you widen your umbrella, however, and allow people to take their emotions into account or send a protest message or spend their vote how they choose, I think you have to find her choice – and all the choices above – reasonable.


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