At this point in my parenting journey, when my firstborn approaches his high school graduation, I should be preaching that my child can do anything, be anything, and achieve anything. And that’s mostly true, up to a point: I recently informed him he cannot run for public office. 

It’s not that Elliott would make a terrible 
policymaker. Under his benevolent rule, 
we could all enjoy universal health care, 
tuition-free college, and gratis Xbox Gold 
memberships. In all, a major improvement 
over the conditions we’re currently 
enduring. But the time for white men 
to lead our multiracial and multigender 
communities is over. 

Minneapolis made national news last fall 
with its diverse new city council members. 
Yet our state is lagging behind: the 2017 
Minnesota legislature was 92 percent white, 
when only 81 percent of Minnesotans 
are white. Only 32 percent of legislators 
are women, even though there are more 
women than men in the state. 

Women in Hollywood called their 
campaign against sexual harassment and 
assault “Time’s Up,” but they just as easily 
could have called it “Step Aside.” The latter 
is my personal mantra as I scroll past white 
male faces appearing in my Facebook news 
feed clamoring for support this November. 
“Step aside, fellas,” I shout, as I order the 
algorithm to make them disappear. 

A friend whose opinion I trust was 
baffled by my blunt assessment of our 
community’s political future. Her firstborn 
is a straight white male too, and she opposes 
any reflexive limiting of his prospects. It 
was only 18 years ago, she recalls, that we 
held our babies to our hearts and whispered 
that all their dreams could come true. “How 
can we tell our sons that they can’t run for 

“I didn’t say they can’t be involved in 
politics,” I told her. “There are phones that 
need to be answered, doors knocked, checks 
cut.” Given that our sons can expect to be 
paid 100 percent of a white man’s dollar, 
those could be very generous contributions 
indeed. But our boys as candidates? Nope. 
Not even if they promise us taco trucks 
on every corner. Not until state leadership 
looks like our state.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was famously 
asked the ideal number of female Supreme 
Court justices. RBG’s notorious (pun 
intended) reply? Nine. Antifeminist news 
outlets pounced, but how is that more or 
less ridiculous than the fact that Sandra 
Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme 
Court justice, was appointed just shy of my 
tenth birthday, in 1989? As I told Elliott, 
I’m old enough to remember when things 
were worse — but I’m also young enough to 
envision that things could be much better.

I am not suggesting that feminists pledge 

to choose Sarah Palin over Joe Biden in a 
potential 2020 match-up (the horror!). But 
I am asking that we think very deliberately 
about local politics, where our bench of 
state and federal talent should develop. 
Candidates vying to be our state’s first-ever 
woman governor got their start on school 
boards (DFLer Rebecca Otto) and city 
councils (GOPer Mary Giuliani Stephens). 

My son Elliott, a total charmer with 
a generous, compassionate heart that is 
sorely lacking in public service today, was 
offended and annoyed by the inherent 
injustice of my position. “Why can’t I run, 
Mom?” he demanded, pausing play on 
XCOM: Enemy Within. I explained why, 
with a women’s studies seminar that made 
him cross-eyed.

“But there’s good news,” I said as I patted 
him, just as gently as I used to 18 years 
ago. “This fall, you can vote!” Mollified, 
he returned to blowing up aliens, and I 
returned to blowing up Facebook. Step 
aside, fellas!