Irin Carmon, MSNBC, May 4, 2016
A new political action committee has a message for straight white men considering running for office: Just don’t.
According to its website, the Colorado-based Can You Not PAC “was started by white men, for white men, asking white men that one important question: ‘Bruh, can you not?’ We are happy to host interventions for the misguided bros in your life who looked in the mirror this morning and thought ‘yeah, it’s gotta be me.’”
Is it for real? “It very initially started out as a joke,” said Jack Teter, a 25-year-old progressive activist who started the PAC with 26-year-old Kyle Huelsman and registered it earlier this week.
But now that Can You Not PAC has taken off, having raised $1200 in its first 24 hours, Teter and Huelsman are assembling an advisory board of non-straight-white-guys to pick candidates worthy of its support. Or as the site puts it, “We are raising money with the intent of defeating mediocre white dudes and elevating some of the best underrepresented candidates of 2016.”
The PAC urges white men in urban, racially mixed precincts to give someone else a shot.
Key to their plan is that the message is coming from fellow white guys. (The site features the smiling and bland faces of L.L. Bean models who have opted out.) “People who are in the position of privilege should be the ones to dismantle it,” said Huelsman.
Unsurprisingly, the PAC has already met with significant backlash in its short life, both from the right, who sees it as proof of ongoing white male victimization, and from progressives who think rather than telling white men no, Teter and Huelsman should be recruiting more underrepresented people.
The most outlandish attacks have been on Teter, who happens to be trans. “People are accusing me of becoming a man to blow up the white male stratosphere,” said Teter. As the first trans staffer in the Colorado legislature, he added, “I’ve worked in politics as a woman and as a man.”