Who’s on first?


Everyone’s making history these days. Come November, America might have the first female President, hard on the heels of the first African-American President. The US certainly has the first female presidential candidate. Clinton, however, is not the first woman on a presidential ticket; there was Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and, of course, Sarah Palin in 2008 – not to mention Libertarian Party’s Theodora (Tonie) Nathan in 1972. Oh, she’s also the first presidential candidate under criminal investigation, which makes her the most prominent Possible Felon-American (until proven guilty, that is) to reach that position.

Had Bernie Sanders somehow managed to overcome the Clinton name, money and machine, he would have been the first Jewish-American presidential candidate. Barry Goldwater was Jewish on father’s side (paternal grandfather was a Polish Jew – Goldwasser – paternal grandmother an English one) but solidly WASP on his mother’s. He himself was an Episcopalian. There was of course also Joe Lieberman as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000.

Bernie Sanders would have also been the first Polish-American presidential candidate, though he probably wouldn’t have identified himself as such. His father, Elias, was born in Słopnice in Poland (Poland didn’t exist as an independent state when he was born but certainly did by the time he migrated to America in 1921). Slopnice, by the way, is only 50km south of my hometown Krakow. But Sanders would not have been the first Polish-American on the ticket, since we’ve already had Ed Muskie as Hubert Humphrey’s running mate in 1968 (Muskie’s father Stephen changed the family from a less pronounceable Marciszewski when he migrated to America in 1903).

Speaking of the Poles internationally, I woke up this morning to the news that in Peru, a former World Bank economist with a quintessentially Hispanic name Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (not surprisingly, everyone calls him PPK) won a presidential election run-off against a quintessentially Hispanic named Keiko Fujimori, who also happens to be the daughter of imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori. Despite his name, however, Kuczynski’s father considered himself ethnically German, even if Poznan is nowadays a part of Poland.

So no luck in boosting ethnic pride there. Nevertheless, Poles can still claim Pope John Paul II and, ahem, Queensland Labor Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Speaking of the Germans, should Donald Trump get to the White House, he will not of course be the first German-American to get there – Hoover and Eisenhower got there first. He will, however, be the first Orange-American to reach the highest office, demonstrating once again that we now live in Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s perfect world where people are judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content… Oh, damn it, never mind.