National elections are coming fast in less than 20 months, and the democratic party has a line of candidates that want to become the next president of the United States. This writing is about the set of characteristics that will favor any candidate to be the elected president. I start listing what I think are four important characteristics based on historical data on elections in USA. They are: being a man, white-European, straight, and Christian. The Constitution of the United States is absolutely agnostic, blind, egalitarian about this. Nothing is written in the Constitution that requires such four characteristics to be president, but statistics of presidential elections tell us that having them are almost like a requirement to be the elected. The following analysis is a combinatoric exercise where I eliminate one, or two, or three of such characteristics and talk about the chances of winning the election.
Group 1: Four Out of Four
Candidates with all four characteristics will bring nothing new to the table. They have a great advantage because of the “normality” factor that favors them. This group includes John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Joe Biden, and Beto O’Rourke, among others. And of course, from the republican party the uncontested candidate, D. Trump, is part of this privileged group.
Group 2: Three Out of Four
This group has 4 subgroups. Candidates with three of the four characteristics have a great battle in front of them. We have had one recent president in the first subgroup among all forty five presidents, that is Barack Obama. He is non-white, but he is a man, straight and Christian. Is it probable that for the next election the president will be from this subgroup? Surely, but with difficulty. If Trump presidency turns out to be a total fiasco, such a candidate may have a chance due to nostalgic memories. This subgroup includes Cory Booker, Julian Castro, among others. How about a candidate that is a woman, white, straight and Christian? We had such a candidate that won the popular vote, Hillary Clinton, but didn’t win the election. The chances for a similar candidate are good compared to an Obama-like candidate. This subgroup includes Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren among others. How about a candidate that is a man, white, LGBT and Christian? We have Mayor Pete this time around. Does he have a chance? I would say yes. He has a chance because of the young voters are less preoccupied with the sexual orientation of people compared to the total population. How about a candidate that is a man, white, straight and non-Christian? This type of candidate will have a chance depending on which religion he follows. Two famous presidents were non-Christian, Jefferson and Lincoln, hence, candidates in this subgroup have better chance than candidates in the other three subgroups. Bernie Sanders belong to this subgroup of candidates.
Group 3: Two Out of Four
This group of candidates will have it harder than the previous group. This group has 6 subgroups. How about a candidate that is a woman, non-white, straight and Christian? At the time of this writing, only Kamala Harris is in this subgroup. It will be extraordinary for her to win. How about a woman, white, LGBT and Christian? I don’t know of any candidate with such characteristics, but she will have to overcome a lot to become president in this coming election. How about a woman, white, straight, and non-Christian? The closest candidate to this subgroup is Tulsi Gabbard, who is Hindu but is not of white-European race. How about a candidate that is a man, non-white, LGBT and Christian? None of the candidates that I know as of now is in this subgroup. How about a candidate that is a man, non-white, straight and non-Christian? Or a man, white, LGBT and Christian? I don’t know any candidate in the last two subgroups, but it will be difficult for such a candidate to appeal to a large electorate based on historical data.
Group 4: One Out of Four
As you can imagine, any candidate in this subgroup has basically a slim chance of winning the election. This group has 4 subgroups. How about a candidate that is a man, non-white, LGBT and non-Christian? Or a woman, white, LGBT and non-Christian? Or a woman, non-white, straight, non-Christian? This last subgroup is where Tulsi Gabbard falls in. We can say she has a very tiny chance to win the election based on historical data, but America is the land of opportunities, and we never know what will happen until it happens.
Group 5: Zero Out of Four (the “US Constitution” group)
I call this group the US Constitution group because it exemplifies what the US Constitution was meant to proclaim. That is, to give to any natural born citizen of thirty-five years of age or older the freedom to be elected president of the nation. The US Constitution implicitly, by omission, established that to be the presidency of the United States, gender, skin color, sexual preferences, and religion are not part of the requirements. Hence, the year when one of the two main political parties proclaims as its candidate a woman, non-white, LGBT, and non-Christian will be the year when we can say the American society has given a complete acknowledgment of what the US Constitution meant to say. She won’t have to win the election, but the fact that she will represent the republican party or the democratic party, will be enough. Would you vote for her?
It is clear that to win a national election for presidency of the United States requires more than what has been written here, much more, but the four characteristics explained above are used, consciously or unconsciously, to weed out candidates in the mind of many voters.
Since the dawn of civilization people around the world have grouped themselves based on these five criteria:
There are those who are tied by blood: siblings, parents, children and ancestors. There are those with the same ethnicity: African, Anglo Saxon, Asian, Arab, who feel connected by the way they look, skin color, hair type, etc. There are those from the same village, city or country who have feelings of pride for the land where they were born, and they feel compatriots of the same soil. There are others grouped by the religion they practice, regardless of other criteria. There are those who form groups based on their socio-economic status: rich, poor, clergy, royalty, merchants, plebeians, commoners, slaves. These five criteria have been present forever in Europe, Africa, Asia, and also in the pre-discovered new continent of America.
In 1492 Europeans moved to the “new” continent and occupied its land. Spaniards and Portuguese conquered from the South of Argentina to the southern part of United States, while British and French conquered most of North America from the North to southern areas of US. The reasons for moving to the new world were for the expansion of European kingdoms and the gaining of power. However, American leaders of the 1770’s felt unhappy with some of the old grouping criteria, specifically, they disliked the socio-economic status given to royalty and clergy. They didn’t see ethnicity or religion as a divisive issue since most of them where Judeo-Christian white European descendents, and the minority of African slaves were not even considered fully humans. The fathers of the independence movement were clever and wise enough to build a new vision based on a different criterion that would “form a more perfect Union.” The new criterion was a set of ideals. Ideals of liberty, equality, freedom of religion, etc. This was very attractive to the locals, and so the leaders were successful in expelling the British army by convincing the people to rebel and promote those ideals. It was a very concise set of ideals that captured the imagination of Americans, and propelled them to see the future in a hopeful and bright way.
In South of America the independence movement in the 1800’s had initially the same intentions and ideals as in United States. It was pioneered by Francisco de Miranda (a Free Mason like George Washington and several US independence leaders) but he was sent to prison by his apprentice, Simon Bolivar, who unfortunately didn’t succeed in establishing a one-single-nation in South America with the same ideals of Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and Hamilton in the north. South America was left with several countries with military governments that diverged from the civilian-commanded society in USA.
For the next 230 years, all presidents of the United States, from Washington to Obama, including Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, have followed the premise of bonding the society based on the ideals written in the US Constitution and its Amendments. Americans feel they are a group of people not bind by blood or ethnicity or soil or religion or socio-economic status, but simply by the ideals put forward by the founding fathers in 1789. It is the reason why this country has welcomed and let stay here important people from other places around the world, such as the founding father Alexander Hamilton (from British West Indies), the physicist Albert Einstein (from Germany), Steve Jobs’ father (from Syria), and the entrepreneur Elon Musk (from South Africa); people that have transformed this country in positive valuable ways. It is thanks to this openness of mind that this country, and countries with similar ideals (e.g. UK, France), have been able to prosper so much for the past two centuries.
Unfortunately, Americans have lost their way lately. They elected a new leadership that seems to favor the old grouping criteria and could destroy the hopeful and bright beacon that the fathers of the Constitution created. The nationalist world movement is threatening the ideals of 1789 and is spreading fast (e.g., UK brexit, Spain-Catalunya) with a facade of patriotism. They are confounding patriotism and nationalism which were clearly differentiated by Charles de Gaulle, the former French president and WWI & WWII General: ”Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”
Only when we dispel the fallacy of a better future promised by nationalists using the aforementioned grouping criteria, can we recover the path towards coexistence, prosperity and peace among the inhabitants of this country that the founding fathers had in mind.