Alexandra Petri: Can we risk nominating a man for president?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers Hunter College's commencement address, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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% of the time. Contrast that to the 100% 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.

Alexandra Petri | The Washington Post

Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences.”