Hillary Clinton is vying to become the first woman president. That's amazing!
Either Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — the first two Latino politicians to make a serious run at the presidency — could become the GOP nominee. That's very cool too.
Here's the thing: you can't tell who a person is voting for based on their gender or ethnicity.
Case in point: "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera, who is both Latina and a woman.
At a conference on Monday, Ferrera explained to Gloria Steinem how she shut down an interviewer who made a ridiculous, but sadly common, assumption about who Ferrera supports in the election.
"He asked me, 'America, what if it's Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz? Who are you going to vote for?'" The actor told Steinem.
Needless to say, Ferrera was a little peeved, and she responded perfectly.
"I was like, 'Hold on, wait. I'm so confused right now. Oh! Because I'm Latina and a woman. Oh, I would only — well, you as a white man, how do you decide who to vote for, 'cause you have so many people to choose from!" She said.
Ferrera is totally right to be annoyed on both counts.
White people have basically dominated American politics since forever.
The 2016 presidential pool is strikingly diverse, but it's still setting the bar for diversity fairly low. For most of American history, it's pretty much been white guys up there.
It's great that the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination is a woman, that she's not the only female candidate in the race, and that two viable Latino candidates are sparring on the Republican side this year. We should also have Asian-American candidates, more than one black candidate, LGBT candidates, candidates from a variety of religions, atheist candidates, and an equal share of female and male candidates.
When voters look up at that debate stage and see who wants to represent them in the White House, it should look more like America.
...but that doesn't mean that women and people of color will automatically vote for a candidate who looks like them.
Just like voters who are white and male won't automatically vote for candidates who look just like them.
On the Democratic side, several recent polls show many young women prefer Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton. In a general election, there's evidence that some Latino voters would support Hillary Clinton over Marco Rubio. Many black voters aren't too jazzed about Ben Carson.
For voters across all genders and ethnicities, across the political spectrum, "Is your gender or general skin tone relatively close to mine?" is a far less important question than "What kind of stuff will you, you know, do. As president."
It's not wrong to vote for a candidate who represents a historic "first." Historic "firsts" are important! But it's wrong to assume that individual voters prioritize representation (a big deal!) over dozens of other critical concerns (also a big deal!)
'Cause female voters, male voters, Latino voters, white voters, black voters, Asian-American voters — most of us, ultimately, vote the same way.
On the issues.