Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Presidential firsts

French Presidency to achieve some sort of milestone

On Sunday France's leading conservative party- the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire- appointed a man named Nicolas Sarkozy as their candidate for the 2007 French Presidential election. The French socialist party has nominated their own candidate as well, one Ms. Segolene Royal.

One of the two will end up as the next president, and the election of either one will be historic for France in some way. Mssr. Sarkozy, as the name suggests, will be the first French president from a non-French background. His father was an immigrant from Hungary. And of course if Ms. Royal is elected she'll be France's first woman president.

But regardless of who gets elected, the next president of France will still be important in a different way- he or she will be the first president born after the Second World War. France is the last of the G7 nations to achieve this milestone.

At present, Japan, Germany, America, Canada, and the United Kingdom are all ruled by men and women born after 1945. Italy had one baby boom prime minister (Massimo D'Alema, 1998-2000) but the current PM, Romano Prodi, was born in 1939.

American Presidency likely to do so as well

Senator Barak Obama
announced he wants to run for President of the United States today. If he gets elected he'll obviously be the first-ever African-American president. If you want to get technical about it, however, he'll actually be the first-ever mixed race president, as his mother was a white woman. Regardless, Obama would also be the first president born in Hawaii (and thus the first president born outside of the continental United States) and the first president with an immigrant parent since Andrew Jackson. Obama's dad was born in Kenya, which has made the senator quite a hero in that country.

Some of America's other leading presidential hopefuls would be interesting "firsts" as well.

If John McCain is elected he, like Obama, will be the first president born outside of the continental United States. But he'll also the first president born outside of the 50 States altogether. McCain was born in the colonially-occupied US Panama Canal Zone of Panama, back when that existed.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she'll be the first woman president, and the first First Lady to become president. This will make the US like most other countries with female leaders, in the sense that Hillary will have come to power partially through her connection to a male relative who was also president. Historically, most female presidents and prime ministers, as well as female governors, have tended to have a father or husband who was also head of state at one time.

If Rudolph Giuliani wins he will technically be the first non Anglo-Saxon president, as he is of Italian descent. Immigrant wise, he'd be less interesting than Obama, but he would still be the first president with immigrant grandparents since Woodrow Wilson.

And then there's good old Mitt Romney. He'd be the first Mormon president, a fact which every media report on him is required to observe in the opening sentence.

Romney has immigrant roots as well, but they are legalistic and complicated. Romney's father was born in Mexico to parents who were US citizens, but they themselves were evidently born in Mexico as well. In the late 19th Century Romney's great-grandparents exiled themselves south of the border to flee the United States and its anti-Mormon ways. The foreign-birth thing caused problems when Romney's father tried to run for president in 1968.

It's obviously early in the US election cycle, but I would say at the moment chances are high that America will elect a president hearty in "first" trivia.


Chris V said...

Nice to see the U.S. presidency potentially (and partially) catching up with the rest of the country.

Dylan said...

"If Rudolph Giuliani wins he will technically be the first non Anglo-Saxon president"

Wasn't Kennedy more Irish than Anglo-Saxon? (us Irish like to nitpick)

Psudo said...

It is kinda annoying that they mention Romney's religion in every published story while generally ignoring some of these other firsts. Why is Mormonism more 'News' than the rest?

J.J. said...

From what I've read the Irish are usually considered part of the Anglo-Saxon race... the Aryans, in other words. Along with the Dutch and Germans. Rudy would be the first president with ancestry in Southern Europe, outside of this Ayran axis.

Anonymous said...

By what I understand, Obema is not considered to be an "African American" because he is not part of the African American roots and heritage, but rather the son of an African immigrant.

Many African Americans protested the fact that anyone who is black and gains an American citizenship claims to be African American, while only people who can trace their roots and heritage to the era of slavery in the United States should use this lable

Anonymous said...

J. J., I'm not so sure. Anglo-Saxons are the products of the Anglos and the Saxons from Germany who invaded Britannia after Rome fell, and the Irish are a Celtic people (like the Scots) who predated the German invaders.

Besides, "Aryans" are the people who conquered India millenia ago. It was misinterpreted by Hitler to become predominantly Scandinavian, which tells you what Hitler knew about geography.

Anyway, Reagan was a Scots-Irish, so I think Rudy is still beat.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... as a Celtic Studies Specialist I confess to a slight wince at the equation of Anglo-Saxon with Irish-- the wince came from imagining Professor Dooley's response if she heard that!!!

But very cool post- it should be an interesting election to watch.