Love them or hate them, they’re running for President.
Apart from the obvious fact that one is a woman and one is an African-American, the current panel of presidential candidates facing off as either Republicans or Democrats during the 2016 primary and caucus races are not, beneath the surface, your father’s old white guys. Throughout most of American history, the overwhelming majority of presidential candidates have come from families that were Angl0-Saxon and Protestant.
Yet just like the profile of the twenty-first century American is “beiging” or “browning” as various demographic and marketing firms have dubbed it, so too have the nationalities, ancestries, identities and families of this year’s presidential candidates.
Among the two Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders was born and raised in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, New York. His father Eli was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States in 1921. His mother Dorothy Glassberg was the daughter of a Polish and a Russian immigrants.
Sanders has refrained from discussing to what degree his Jewish faith has shaped his character, how steeped he is in its traditions or what his spiritual beliefs might be, he did attend Hebrew school and made his bar mitzvah.
Many in his paternal family perished in the Holocaust, his father’s brother Romek, a Jewish leader in Slopnice, Poland being among the first killed by Nazi troops upon their invasion of it.
His wife Jane, also a native of Brooklyn, New York is one of five children from an Irish Catholic family. She attended Catholic schools and remains a Catholic in her choice of faith.
Among those candidates who have since dropped out of the race there is also marked diversity.
Former Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley is of Irish Catholic parentage.
Former Republican candidates Chris Christie and Rick Santorum are both Catholics of Irish-Italian ancestry, sometimes dubbed “Iritalian” for its commonality among northeastern demographics.
Former Republican candidate Piyush Jindal, who goes by the nickname of “Bobby” is the son of two immigrants from India. He formally converted from his family’s Hindu faith to Christianity.
Republican candidate Marco Rubio is the son of Mario Rubio Reina and Oriales Garcia, who both immigrated from Cuba to the United States in 1956, before the island nation was overtaken by Fidel Castro and communist rule. Rubio.
His wife Jeanette Dousdebes is also first-generation with Latino parentage, her father and mother being immigrants from the South American nation of Colombia.
Although the Rubios are Catholic, the candidate is also a regular at a Baptist church in Miami.
Republican candidate Rafael Edward Cruz, who goes by the nickname of “Ted” was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
His father Rafael Bienvenido Cruz was born in Cuba, to a father who hailed from Spain’s Canary Islands. His mother Eleanor Elizabeth (Darragh) Wilson, is of Irish and Italian ancestry and was born in Wilmington, Delaware.
Republican candidate Ben Carson was born in Detroit to African-American parents who, like millions of other African-Americans, left the rural South to seek work in an industrial northern city. Both had been born in Georgia and were then living in Tennessee, where they married before migrating to Michigan.
According to the information her son provided the public based on his knowledge at the time, Carson’s mother was only thirteen years old at the time of her marriage and her husband later abandoned the family, after she learned that he had another family. Some of these biographical facts, researched by the dailymail.com, have been disputed with documentation.
Often working three jobs to support her two sons, often as a domestic servant, the family was impoverished and had to sometimes survive on government food stamps. He is a descendant of both European ancestors and those from the Makua people of Africa.
Republican candidate John Kasich, born in an industrial Pennsylvania town near Pittsburgh is the paternal grandson of Czech immigrants, and Croatian grandparents through his mother Anne Vukovich. He has called himself “a Croatian and a Czech.”
Jeb Bush might appear to have the most traditional ethnic background among the candidates, as the descendant of old New England of Anglo-Saxon ancestry, but his nuclear family is not.
Famously, he is married to the former Columba Garnica de Gallo born into a poor family in the town of León, Guanajuato, Mexico. Before abandoning his family, her father was a migrant worker and restaurant waiter.
Mrs. Bush is a Catholic and belongs to the Regnum Christi movement, although what appears to be an act of dirty politics of play in the days leading up to the South Carolina primary subtlety altered her Wikipedia entry to falsely state that her religion was “Islam.”
The second son of Jeb and Columba Bush, John Ellis Bush, Jr., known as “Jebby” is married to Sandra Algudady, an Iraqi-American woman. She is foreign-born, hailing from Canada. Their children speak English, Spanish and Arabic.
Like Bush, Hillary Clinton would also seem to represent the old-stock ethnicities of the United States: English, Welsh, Scottish and French.
Through her Canadian maternal branches, however, comes oral family tradition that she also possesses Native American ancestry, a claim some genealogists dispute although observers point out flaws in other assiduous research.
Her daughter Chelsea was married to a Jewish-American Marc Mezvinsky in an interfaith ceremony. The son of a former Congressman and former Congresswoman, he was raised in the Conservative Jewish tradition.
For all of his anti-immigrant views, Donald Trump is a first-generation and second-generation American.
His mother was an immigrant from Tong, on the Isle of Lewis in Scottish waters. When he and his sister visited her extremely modest family home in 2008, he encountered first cousins who did not speak English, only Gaelic.
The parents of Trumps’ father Fred were also immigrants, who came from Germany in 1885.
As was common among children of German parents or birth during World War I, when the U.S. was engaged in war with Germany and the U.S. government turned out racist propaganda about the Germans as a race, his father Fred felt the need to obfuscate his authentic nationality, spreading the word that his parents had been Swedish. With lingering anti-German bigotry lingering just two years after the war ended, the 1920 presidential candidate’s wife Florence Harding had made the claim that her paternal ancestors as reflected in her maid name “Kling” were not German, but from Holland.
Fred Trump longer after insisted he was not German concerned that a large majority of Jewish-Americans who rented Queens and Brooklyn apartments from his company might resent that fact. Donald Trump rescinded his father’s omission of truth after the older man died, owning his German ancestry.
Donald Trump has two Orthodox Jewish grandchildren through his daughter Ivanka.
She evidenced a genuine interest in Judaism and had two Jewish boyfriends before her 2009 marriage to real estate developer Jared Kushner. Earlier that year she converted to Orthodox Judaism after studying at the Modern Orthodox Ramaz School and assumed the Hebrew name of Yael. Trump’s grandchildren have been raised in the strict observance of Orthodox Jewish traditions, including a kosher diet and observing Jewish Sabbath laws.
“I am very honored by that,” Trump has stated of his daughter becoming Orthodox Jewish and living by its tenets, “it wasn’t in the plan but I am very glad it happened.”
Trump’s first wife and third, current wife are also both immigrants.
His first wife, Ivana Zelníčková, was born in Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia. His third wife was born in Sevnica, Yugoslavia and grew up in Communist concrete cinder block apartment housing.
Ironically, in light of how her last father-in-law tried to disguise his German parentage, Melania Knavs changed her maiden name to Knauss, to suggest that she was German and not Slovenian. She is fluent in German, as well as Serbian and Slovenian and has raised her only child with Trump speaking Slovenian, and the ten-year old is fluent in the foreign language.
There is one further irony to the potential of a Donald Trump candidacy on the Republican ticket. If he wins the nomination, this man born in Queens, New York and now living in Manhattan, New York would find himself in history’s first All Empire State Presidential Election – or even a Battle of the Boroughs.
If Republicans nominate Trump and if Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, a resident for nearly twenty years of Chappaqua, in New York’s Westchester County, just north of New York City, it would mark the presidential election between two current residents of the Empire State.
If Republicans nominate Trump and if Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders, it would counterpoint, respectively, one born in 1946 in Jamaica Estates, schooled in Kew Gardens, raised in a neighborhood near Hillside Avenue and Union Turnpike in the New York City borough of Queens against one born in 1941 in Flatbush, educated in Flatbush, and raised near Kings Highway in the borough of Brooklyn.
Could the 2016 Presidential Election end up a blustering Brawl of Borough Boys?