Too many unqualified white guys are running for office. These white guys decided to act.

I will never be as confident about anything as many mediocre white men seem to be about everything.

I'm a capable, talented woman of color. I'm pretty sure of myself and my ability, but I've got my limits. Some people just ... don't.

And, sadly, many of those people, who lack self-awareness or good friends who question their intentions, decide the best use of their time, resources, and position of privilege is to run for office.


Jeb Bush (center) and Chris Christie chat at a Republican debate. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Because who's better to speak for the many diverse and rapidly-changing communities that make up this great country than a straight white man?

Answer: Pretty much anybody.

That's why 20-something political operatives and white men Jack Teter and Kyle Huelsman launched the Can You Not PAC.

Their mission is simple: ask, persuade, and/or disempower people with privilege (specifically straight white men) from running for public office in progressive urban areas. And with the help of an advisory board, the group plans to endorse a slate of women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates instead.

"It is our job to bring down the confidence level of mediocre straight white men to their corresponding level of competence," the duo told Upworthy. "We are in a crisis of under-qualified, over-confident candidates."

Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images.

They're not making this up.

In a recent study out of American University, men are nearly 60% more likely than women to evaluate themselves as "very qualified" to run for elected office. Among the men who assessed themselves as "not qualified," 55% of them have still considered the idea of running for office despite their qualifications (or lack thereof).

The whole thing began as a joke, but now it has taken off. After starting at the state level, with a Colorado Political Committee, the founders are thinking about expansion.

"After receiving contributions from coast to coast, we realized there was a whole country of people who are tired of electing Ken Doll lookalikes," they said.

Martin O'Malley, everybody! Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

And no, this is not a case of self-loathing. It's political science.

Jack and Kyle are firm believers in progressive politics, and the data doesn't lie. A 2012 study from Emory University revealed African-Americans elected to the state legislature are more likely than other Democrats with similar constituencies to introduce measures that combat racial discrimination and improve access to health care.

Similarly, women in state legislatures are more likely to introduce legislation about reproductive health, bills dealing with children, women's health, and welfare.

So for people interested in progressive change, supporting women and people of color just makes sense.

But some would argue that if this all about dismantling ego and checking privilege, should two white dudes be leading the way?

Asking straight white men to take a seat is far from a new idea. People of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals have been raising this mantle since time eternal. There are organizations like Emily's List, Equality PAC, and the Latino Victory Project that encourage women, LGBTQ people, and people of color to pursue public office.



But Can You Not is the first one to actively encourage straight white men to sit out. That difference is especially noteworthy.

"I really, really firmly believe that it’s the absolute obligation of people in positions of privilege to dismantle oppressive power structures," Jack said. That goes for men calling B.S. on sexism, white people checking their privilege, and cisgender people speaking out against hateful legislation like North Carolina's recent "bathroom bill," HB2.


U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth speaks at the Emily's List 30th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for EMILY's List.

As one might assume, the Can You Not PAC is not without critics.

"We’ve been getting push back from two places: white supremacists who want to kill us, and young progressive white dudes who maybe want to run some day," Kyle said.

The former is difficult to reason with, but getting the latter on board is crucial and has already lead to some enlightening conversations.

Photo by iStock.

"People get defensive, as they should — anyone who wants to run for office better be ready to explain to people why they’re the best representative of their community," he added.

And hey, idealist, progressive white guys: Can You Not is not suggesting you abandon your political dreams altogether. As Jack said,

"We’re saying that aspirational young white guys who want to be in politics because they love the 'West Wing' should use their passion and their time and their talent to make politics look less like them — because it’s good government, because it’s good progressive policy, and because it’s the right thing to do to fight hundreds of years of egregious overrepresentation of straight white men to the disservice of marginalized communities all over the country. Sometimes the best thing you can do is step aside so other people can lead."

We've been a country for nearly 240 years, and straight white guys have been a majority of the decisionmakers (for better or worse) for the entire time.

No matter where you fall politically, adding new and diverse voices is vital to sustaining thoughtful dialogue and best representing this country's rapidly changing demographics. There's no better time than right this minute for traditionally underrepresented voices to stand up and drive the nation forward, with or without groups like Can You Not.

"In short: Women, LGBT folks, and people of color don’t need straight white men to save them or to speak for them in politics," Jack said. "They need them to get the hell out of the way."


Photo by WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).


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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!