People from different ethnic groups for POTUS

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by David T, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Despite the varying ethnic origins of the American people, presidents of the US (before Barack Obama--and so far after him) seem overwhelmingly to have had ancestors from only a few lands--the British isles, the Netherlands, and Germany. We have discussed the possibility of African American presidents before Obama (Colin Powell being the most frequently mentioned) and of Jewish presidents (Joe Lieberman being the most obvious possibility before Bernie Sanders), but here are some other ethnic groups that might have been represented in the presidency. My choices range from obviously plausible to very long shots. In some cases, the only likely way for them to become president is to be elected vice-president and for the president then to die or resign. Anyway, here's my list:

    (1) Albanian: Mayor Richard Caliguri of Pittsburgh was of Arbëreshë ("Italo-Albanian") ancestry. But he didn't become mayor of Pittsburgh until the late 1970's and was dead by 1988, which leaves him little opportunity.

    Of course John Belushi became a senator, but only in "Animal House."

    (2) Arab: E. Spencer Abraham, then Republican Senator from Michigan (narrowly defeated for re-election, he served as Secretary of Energy from 2001 to 2005) was a possbile, if not very likely, running mate for GW Bush in 2000. After all, he was from a large (and close) state. Ralph Nader obviously was never going to make it to the White House as Green party candidate, but could he ever have won a Sanders-like campaign for the Demcoratic nomination?

    (NOTE: I had forgotten that George J. Mitchell was an Arab-American; his mother was Lebanese-born, his father, though Irish-American, was adopted by a Lebanese family, and he himself was raised a Maronite Catholic. Thanks to X_X for reminding me about Mitchell.)

    (3) Armenian: George Deukmejian (R), Governor of California, 1983-1991. At least conceivable as a running mate for GHW Bush in 1988.

    (4) Assyrian: Maybe the Democrats put Anna Eshoo on a national ticket not only to attrract women but also to atttact money from her Silicon Valley congressional district? BTW, she's also part Armenian, so she could count under (3) as well.

    (5) Basque: Paul Laxalt, Republican Governor and Senator, Nevada, sometimes mentioned as possible running mate for Reagan. (Nancy Reagan thought that her husband preferred Laxalt and only rejected him for geographical reasons--but if the Democrats could nominate two "New Democrats" from adjacent southern states in 1992, why couldn't the Republicans nominate two western conservatives in 1980?) John Garamendi could conceivably have been on the national Democratic ticket if he had ever succeeded in becoming governor of California.

    (6) Chinese: Well, of course Andrew Yang is running, but any earlier possibilities? Hiram Fong "twice ran favorite son campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, in 1964 and 1968.[9] In 1964, he became the first Asian-American to receive votes for president at a major party convention, receiving the votes of the Hawaii and Alaska delegations..." but I doubt that he ever had a serious chance of being on a national GOP ticket. OTOH, someone here once suggested the following:

    "The simplest way is for Nixon to appoint Fong to replace Agnew, and then resign as in OTL. The 25th Amendment would have permitted that, and the House and Senate would not have rebelled against the choice.

    "The POD is a train of thought that creeps into Nixon's head and lays paranoid eggs. He is already considering the possibility that he will be impeached, and he fears that Ford is too much of a goo-goo to issue a pardon, and might screw old Nixon in order to win himself a second full term. Conversely, a man like Fong would be a perfect caretaker president. In the first place, he's been a solid ally on Vietnam and Watergate. And since he would have an [expletive deleted]'s chance of being elected president in his own right, he would be free to make unpopular decisions while president. As a bonus, Nixon would enhance his legacy by appointing a Chinese-American to the vice-presidency."

    Elaine Chao is out because she was born in Taiwan:

    Maybe if Mike Woo had been elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, he could eventually have been on a national Democratic ticket?

    (7) Croatian: John Kasich's mother was of Croatian descent (his father was Czech):

    If the last Territorial Governor of Alaska, Mike Stepovich had won the rather close 1958 Senate race against Gruening could he be on Nixon's list of potential running mates if Nixon is looking for a Catholic? (Stepovich is not only a Catholic but relatively young, a World War II veteran, with a large, attractive family, etc.) Stepovich was half Serbian, half Croatian.

    Speaking of Alaskans: I have a hard time seeing Mark Begich on a national Democratic ticket even if he won his 2014 Seante or 2018 gubernatorial race. The same is true of his father, even had he survived:

    Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaigns never had much of a chance:

    Rudy Perpich also seems unlikely, but: "Newsweek brought Perpich national attention by bestowing on him the nickname "Governor Goofy", crystallizing the combination of affection and resentment his habits elicited.[4] During his last years in office, commentators wondered whether he would *shoot to stardom as a presidential hopeful* [my emphasis--DT] or, as governor, sour Minnesota voters on the DFL party with questionable public relations. But Perpich's activist vision of the governor's role was later cited as an important contribution to the Minnesota economy, even by such unlikely admirers as his 1990 rival and successor Arne Carlson, who said in 2005 that Perpich "was the first person that I was aware of to focus on the international role that states are going to have to play.""

    (8) Czech: As already mentioned, Kasich is half Czech.

    Governor Otto Kerner (D) of Illinois --maybe as a running mate for LBJ in 1964. Later on the Kerner Report made him nationally famous but probably too controversial (and then of course eventually he landed in jail, but that's another story...)

    Harold Stassen was part Czech: "Stassen, the third of five children, was born in West St. Paul, Minnesota, to Elsie Emma (née Mueller) and William Andrew Stassen, a farmer and several-times mayor of West St. Paul. His mother was German and his father was born in Minnesota, to German and Czech parents."

    A surprising number of potential presidential candidates were descended from Augustine Herman
    ("Even beyond his numerous accomplishments during his lifetime, part of Augustine Herman's legacy have been the numerous distinguished descendants he left. Some of them are listed below. Richard Bassett, Daniel Brewster, James A. Bayard, James A. Bayard, Jr., Richard H. Bayard, Thomas F. Bayard, Thomas F. Bayard, Jr., Francis Beverley Biddle, James Bouldin, Thomas Bouldin, John B. Breckinridge, Lloyd Bryce, Ezekiel F. Chambers, Thomas Clayton, Henry W. Collier, Albert Constable, Robert Daniel, Lucius Q. C. Lamar, William B. Lamar, George E. Mitchell, Edmund Randolph, David Ross, and Joseph Tydings.")

    (9) Danish--Lloyd Bentsen.

    (10) French: John Fremont:émont

    Robert M. La Follette (and of course Bob, Jr. and Phil...):

    I suppose you could also include Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton: "His paternal grandparents, Mary Elizabeth (Robinette) and Joseph H. Biden, an oil businessman from Baltimore, Maryland, were of English, French, and Irish ancestry..." "Her mother, Dorothy Howell, was a homemaker of Dutch, English, French Canadian (from Quebec), Scottish and Welsh descent."

    Also, had he lived, JFK, Jr. via his mother...

    And George Washington had a French great-great-great grandfather:

    (11) Greek: Spiro Agnew (if his having taken bribes isn't discovered, or at least not discovered in time), Paul Tsongas (if Clinton falters in 1992 primaries), and yes, Michael Dukakis...

    BTW, we could have had a Lesbian-American president in 1988: "On the Aegean island of Mytilene, also known as Lesbos, the name Dukakis is mentioned with special pride. Dukakis' deceased father, Panos, emigrated from Pelopi Mytilene as a boy of 15 to Boston, where he worked his way through medical school...." (I even remember Johnny Carson joking about Dukakis's father being from Lesbos: "I was stationed in Lesbos during the War. Kind of hard to get a date there...")

    One other possibility: North Carolina Congressman Nick Galifiankis if he had defeated Jesse Helms for the Senate. (He liked to tell North Carolinians wondering how to pronounce his name, "It starts with a gal and ends with a kiss...")

    (12) Hispanic (admittedly not strictly an "ethnic group"): Bill Richardson (despite his Anglo name): He could have been Gore's rnning mate if not for the security problems at the Department of Energy.

    Ted Cruz and Julian Castro are current politics and AOC isn't eligible until 2024...

    (13) (East) Indian--Bobby Jindal Nikki Haley and (on her mother's side) Kamala Harris.

    (14) Italian: We've discussed this recently. Mario Cuomo (could have gotten the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 and would probably have beaten GHW Bush, though losing a few southern states Clinton carried in OTL), John Volpe (if named as Nixon's running mate in 1968). Al Smith was part-Italian. La Guardia is another possibility, as is Geraldine Ferraro. And Rudy Giuliani--except that even if nominated in 2008, it's hard to see a Republican winning that year.

    There was talk of having Peter Rodino as Carter's running mate in 1976:

    "In 1976, Jimmy Carter considered Mr. Rodino as a running mate. ''Tippy called me all excited, saying I was at the top of the list,'' Mr. Rodino said. ''I said, 'No, I'm not. I like what I'm doing and you need me where I am, as chairman of Judiciary.' Tippy was surprised. So was Carter.'"

    I like the idea of Ferdinand Pecora, but he was born in Sicily...

    (15) Japanese: Can anyone see Daniel Inouye as vice-president on the Democratic ticket in 1976? (He got a lot of sympathy during the Watergate hearings when John Ehrlichman's lawyer called him "that little Jap.")

    S. I. Hayakawa would make an interesting choice for a GOP national ticket--except that he was born in Canada.

    (16) Lithuanian: Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois was mentioned as a possible running mate for Gore in 2000.

    (17) Maltese: Mayor Pete is of course current politics.

    Anyone earlier is a stretch but maybe if Joseph Borg had run for governor or senator from Alabama or had become Secretary of the Treasury in someone's administration...

    (18) Native American: Have Herbert Hoover die in office, and vice-president Charles Curtis, who is part Kaw Indian, becomes POTUS.

    Lesser-known than Curtis today but a real power in the Democratic Party in his time: Robert L. Owen

    Maybe the Republicans reward Ben Nighthorse Campbell for party-switching?

    (19) Norwegian: Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale. Also Earl Warren (who with the change of a few votes in California, Illinois, and Ohio could have been elected vice-president in 1948, and then we can have a handy Puerto Rican nationalist/terrorist take care of President Dewey...) was half-Norwegian, half-Swedish.

    (20) Polish: Edmund Muskie. Two ways he could have become president: (1) Had Humphrey been elected in 1968 and died in office, or (2) in his own right in 1972 if he had won the Democratic nomination (certainly he would have been the underdog against Nixon, though he would have done a lot better than McGovern--but maybe if Wallace had not been shot, and had run as a third party candidate again and badly cut into Nixon's OTL vote, Muskie would have a chance).

    Also, I did a post long ago in soc.history-what-if where Ben Adamowski, a former Democrat who switched to the GOP, is re-elected Cook County States Atorney in 1960 (he had a far better claim than Richard Nixon to have been cheated out of office by the Daley machine that year), defeats Daley for mayor of Chicago in 1963 (even in OTL Adamowski gave Daley a surprisingly competitive race) is reelected in 1967, and is named as Nixon's running mate in 1968.

    (21) Portuguese: I already mentioned Ben Nighthorse Campbell under Native Americans, but his mother was an immigrant from Portugal.

    (22) Rusyn (or "Carpatho-Rusyn"): Tom Ridge, entioned as a running mate for Bush in 2000, is partly descended from Carpatho-Rusyns from Slovakia.

    (23) Serbian: A scandal-free Rod Blagojevich? (Yeah, I know, sounds unlikely...)

    Ohio governor George Voinovich was Serbian on his father's side, Slovene on his mother's.

    As mentioned above, Mike Stepovich was part Serbian, part Croatian.

    (24) Slovak: As noted, Tom Ridge is partly descended from Carpthato-Rusyns from Slovakia, and is often listed as a Slovak-American. Also, If Joe Sestak had won his US Senate race from PA, he would be mentioned for a Democratic national ticket.

    (25) Slovene: Frank Lausche, Democratic Governor and then Senator from Ohio, was one of the most conservative northern Democrats. I could (just barely) see him named for "ticket-balancing" purposes during the 1950's or 1960 if the top spot went to a liberal Protestant. There was even talk that Ike might name him as a vice-presidential candidate in 1956 (afer persuading Nixon to take a Cabinet post) to appeal to Catholic voters.

    Also, to get into current politics, Amy Klobuchar's father is of Slovene descent.

    (26) Swedish: Governor John Johnson of Minnesota was seriously mentioned as an alternative to Bryan for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1908. Also, I've already mentioned that Earl Warren was part Swedish.

    (27) Swiss: Albert Gallatin (Also ISTR that Hoover characterized himself as being of Swiss rather than German ancestry).

    And again to mention a current candidate, Amy Klobuchar's maternal grandparents were from Switzerland.

    (28) Ukrainian: David Bonior "grew up in Hamtramck and East Detroit as the grandson of Polish and Ukrainian immigrants..." DIfficult to see him on a national ticket, though.

    Can't think of any plausible Bulgarians, Finns (*pace* Gus Hall), Koreans, Romanians, Turks, or any number of other groups--at least not yet.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
    Selukwe, Frank Hart, Omar04 and 18 others like this.
  2. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    I forgot a couple of Asian groups:

    (1) Filipino American: Maybe if HRC defeats Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she will want an African American running mate to mend fences with the black community, and will choose Bobby Scott whose maternal grandfather was Filipino. Aldo, John Ensign, who is one-eighth Filipino could conceivably have been on the GOP ticket that year (though it is hard to see the GOP winning in 2008).

    Ben Cayetano could theoretically be on a national Democratic ticket.

    (2) Thai American: Tammy Duckworth. (I assume that because of her American father, she is a natural-born US citizen, even though she was born in Bangkok.)
  3. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    I also forgot Belgian-Americans. Two possibilities:

    (1) Henry Ford: "His mother, Mary Ford (née Litogot; 1839–1876), was born in Michigan as the youngest child of Belgian immigrants; her parents died when she was a child and she was adopted by neighbors, the O'Herns."

    (2) Bob Beauprez if he had succeeded in being elected Governor of Colorado (as he attempted twice, in 2006 and 2014)? "Beauprez was born in Lafayette, Colorado. He grew up on his family's dairy farm, which had been purchased by his grandparents, outside of Boulder, Colorado. He is the son of Marie (née Stengel) and Joseph C. Beauprez. His paternal grandparents had emigrated from Belgium to Colorado and raised draft horses on the family's land."

    Another prominent Brlgian-American politician was Congressman Louis C. Rabaut who represented the East Side of Detroit in Congress at a time when it had a substantial number of Belgian-Americans. However, he did not to my knowledge ever seek higher office.

    Luxembourgish-Americans? Well, there was Governor Richard F. Kneip of South Dakota.
  4. Magnum Well-Known Member

    Sep 6, 2006
    Barron Trump for Slovenian ;)
    fluttersky likes this.
  5. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
  6. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
    Among all these, I find a Volpe Presidency most interesting. Though given his bad relationship with Nixon's advisers while he was in the cabinet, I don't think Volpe would necessarily last six years as Nixon's VP. It's possible that even if Volpe is tapped in 1968, he'd be dumped from the ticket in 1972. However, if Volpe were to become President in 1974 I could see things changing in very interesting ways. For instance, would a Massachusetts Republican like Volpe have enough conservative support to defeat Reagan in 1976? If not, you could see a Reagan-Carter race where Reagan loses and a more moderate Republican (like Bush or Baker) wins in 1980.
  7. New Cleo Genesis Ṣrtô nag lavēskiy drûotnec?

    Dec 12, 2013
    Emil Hurja and Dexter Lehtinen are the most prominent Finnish-American politicians I'm aware of - a creative mind could probably do something with them.
    Nuka1 likes this.
  8. LuckyLuciano Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2018
    LBJ pushed Humphrey to choose Daniel Inouye as his VP, but Inouye refused. Say he accepts, and Humphrey-Inouye pull off a squeaker, only for Humphrey to be assasinated by some right wing crazy.
  9. X_X Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2017
    Senator George J. Mitchell from Maine was the most likely Arab-American to reach the White House. Surprised you overlooked him. Another Mainer, Governor John Baldacci, might do as well.

    Gary Locke, Governor of Washington from 1997-2005.

    There's always Patsy Mink.

    Will Rogers Jr. had potential.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
  10. Luke_Starkiller Opportunity Democrat; Cold War Junkie

    Mar 7, 2016
    B-Town, USA
    Let's say Francis Fukuyama decides to go into politics after a career in academia, and quickly becomes a darling of the neocons. He could've easily run for one of the Orange County congressional seats, and could've been a solid VP for Dubya. If that shoe grazes his head just right, you've got yourself a President Fukuyama.
    Jackson Lennock likes this.
  11. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    Goldwater kinda sorta counts as Jewish, at least by partial ethnic background. Ironic if America's first Jewish President is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
    John Kerry is of partial Jewish background (also ironic if America's first Jewish President were Catholic).
    Jacob Javits?
    Eric Cantor was House Majority Leader. Avoid Dave Brat beating him and he'd be Speaker when Boehner quits. Maybe that sets him up to run for President.
    For about 12 days, Morgenthau was first in the line of succession. Have Truman fall down a flight of steps and you've got a Jewish President.

    Gary Locke (Chinese heritage) was the Governor of Washington from 1997-2005. He'd later be Commerce Secretary 2009-2011 and Ambassador to China 2011-2014.
    Folks were surprised when he didn't try for a third term in 2004. Supposedly it was racial attacks following his delivering the 2003 State of the Union Response that put him off of continued public service. A three-term Governor Democratic Governor would be a strong contender in 2008.

    JC Watts (African-American) was the GOP Conference Chair for four years. He retired in 2002, but was actually asked by Rosa Parks to run for reelection. He would probably be Majority Whip if reelected, though I suppose it's also possible that he'd skip over DeLay for Majority Leader. There was speculation that he'd run for Governor in 2010 I believe.
    If he sticks around in Congress, he might be tempted to go for the Presidency in 2008. He'd also be a good McCain VP choice for 2008, setting him up to possibly be 2012 nominee.

    Reagan was open to picking Ed Brooke as VP in 1968. Have that happen and Reagan take a tumble.
  12. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2017
    Scholar Fukuyama: We have reached the end of history and will not do better than this.
    President Fukuyama: We have reached the end of presidencies and will not do better than this.
  13. Brady Kj Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2010
    Between two oceans, above some dirt
    There's something I always find puzzling in these threads about presidents from different ethnicities. They never talk about how to change the systemic problems that lead to almost all presidents being of British descent. The general public has biases against minorities and non-protestants that have decreased especially since 1960 but haven't gone away. The United States' old money establishment has always been mostly people of British descent. Being connected to old money makes it easier to relate to new money. Masonic orders and other social organizations used to explicitly discriminate against people who weren't of British descent, mostly but not exclusively against non-white people. Elite colleges and fraternities favor people whose parents are their alumni. Until recently, very few immigrants and children of immigrants had the same opportunities. Once people get out of colleges, people with family connections to old and powerful law firms are who gets hired to those law firms. Presidents are mostly selected from people from elite law firms, elite colleges, and fraternities. And on top of that, voters tend to favor people whose names they can pronounce.
    I'd like to know how America could have weakened these systemic problems, so we can have lots of presidents of varying ethnicities.
    Orcbuster, Miranda Brawner and Rath like this.
  14. AltHistoryNerd Now 99% Jovian Flying Fox Free

    Dec 8, 2011
    Technically, we haven't had our first African-American president.

    Here's mine.

    J.C. Watts:

    9/11 is averted thanks to some brave air travelers. The planes crash off the shore of Coney Island, killing 50, but still pisses off America enough to go to war.

    The GOP doesn't listen to the Stormfront Wing, and instead, tries to broaden its base with Hispanics, African Americans and Asians. It succeeds, creating a new "American" culture, rather than a hyphenated American culture.
  15. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
  16. Byzantion Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    Forum Romanum, Suburra
    Maybe a President of Tygrinia Eritrean descent or Ethiopian Amahrinia roots. Either full Tygrinia/Amahrinia or half Afro- America or half, Caucasian'.
  17. Brady Kj Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2010
    Between two oceans, above some dirt

    Please explain this, because I'm struggling to think of a non-offensive explanation for this comment.
  18. Thomas Jefferson Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2012
    Lebanese: John Sununu (Sr. or Jr.), also Ray LaHood and Donna Shalala (you'd probably need some sort of horrible 25th-Amendment scenario for either of these)

    Syrian: Mitch Daniels

    Filipino: John Ensign

    African-American (before Obama): Doug Wilder, Colin Powell, J.C. Watt

    Hispanic: Ken Salazar, Bill Richardson, Mario Diaz-Balart, Luis Fortuno (Governor of Puerto Rico, mentioned as a potential Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate in 2012)

    Jewish: Joe Lieberman, Abraham Ribicoff (offered the VP nomination in '72 but didn't take it, leading to the Eagleton affair) Milton Shapp (Governor of Pennsylvania who ran in '76), Paul Wellstone, Ed Rendell, Elliot Spitzer (I think the POD for this one is pretty obvious)

    Native American: Charles Curtis, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Brad Carson (Democratic Representiative from Oklahoma who lost a Senate election in '04), Robert Latham Owen (Senator from Oklahoma who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1920), Larry Echo Hawk (Lost an election for Governor of Idaho in 1994, later Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs)
  19. mlee117379 Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2019
    There's also Tom Harkin whose mother was a Slovene immigrant.
  20. pompejus Hertog van Gelre

    Mar 27, 2006
    I think that he either means that Obama's father was from Africa and not an African American in the traditional sense. Or maybe he means that Obama, being half-white, was also a president descended of "the British isles, the Netherlands, and Germany" as mentioned in the first post.