single women don't count“You don’t count.” It is something that is rarely said out loud. People who think that of other groups of people typically do not admit it.

The history of social movements is one of marginalized groups fighting back and insisting that they cannot be relegated to the sidelines anymore. One way we can tell that a social justice movement by and for a particular group has succeeded, at least in part, is when the mainstream media becomes self-conscious about not stereotyping or excluding that group.

No longer is it acceptable to act as if the world is comprised solely of white men, for example, or that white men are the only humans who count. Protests against racism and sexism helped us achieve that. Other groups have jumped into action, too. Now we also can’t pretend that the only humans who count are white, heterosexual, married men. Consciousness-raising about heterosexism and singlism has done that.

Sometimes, though, old prejudices peak out. No, actually, they jump out, even in high-profile media accounts written by reporters who probably see themselves as sophisticated, savvy and totally without prejudice.

One media source that has some cache these days is Politico. There, just before the Presidential election, reporters Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen wrote about the “lessons learned from 2012.” First, I’ll show you just the first few sentences, then you can see if you can anticipate what comes next.

“If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.”

OK, can you guess the next line, which is the reporters’ conclusion?

Here it is:

“A broad mandate this is not.”

That is what it looks like to marginalize about 150 million Americans. There are about 52 million Hispanic or Latino Americans, 42 million Black Americans, and 54 million single women in the US. That’s already 148 million, not counting the highly educated urban whites – I don’t know how many of those there are. The overall population of the US is over 300 million.

Thanks, Politico, for writing off about half of the US population.

President Obama did indeed win those voters:

  • He won single women voters, 67% to just 31% for Romney.
  • He won Latino/a voters, 71% to 27%.
  • He won Black voters, 93% to 6%.

Politico wants to claim that such results are so not a mandate. Happily, others disagree.

At the American Prospect, Jamell Bouie described the potential Obama voters as “one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee…a broad cross-section of the country.”

Steve Brenen, writing for the Maddow blog, notes:

“There’s no comparable analogy in the piece about Mitt Romney also lacking a broad mandate by failing to generate support from Hispanics, African-Americans, single women, and highly educated urban whites.”

At his popular blog, “The Dish,” at the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan reprinted that cringe-worthy excerpt under the heading, “The unbearable whiteness of Politico.”

Here’s the good news. I bet Politico won’t be nearly so clueless next time. They got called out on it. That’s one of the many reasons that it is a good idea to stand up to singlism and all of the other isms.

African American woman photo available from Shutterstock