Hope to see Hindu, Jew or Latino as US president: Obama has a dream
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Hope to see Hindu, Jew or Latino as US president: Obama has a dream

At his last news conference on Wednesday, outgoing US President Barack Obama, 55, said if America continued to be inclusive, giving equal opportunity to everyone, “Who knows who we’re going to have?”

world Updated: Jan 19, 2017 22:08 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Obama's final press conference,President Obama,First black president of US
In this Jan. 18, 2017, photo, President Barack Obama taps the podium as he concludes his final presidential news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. (AP)

Reflecting on his election as the first black US president and the increasing racial and religious diversity in the country, President Barack Obama has said he believes the US will some day send a Hindu or a Jew to the White House. Or a woman, or a Latino.

The outgoing president also made clear he was not going away entirely as he planned to speak out if and when he saw “our core values” in danger, serving up a thinly veiled warning to president-elect Donald Trump and his team.

Taking questions at his last news conference on Wednesday Obama, 55, said if America continued to be inclusive, giving equal opportunity to everyone, “we’re going to have a woman president, we’re going to have a Latino president, and we’ll have a Jewish president, a Hindu president”.

“Who knows who we’re going to have?” he wrapped up the argument with the usual Obama flourish tailored to get a laugh, “I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed-up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them.”

As reporters cracked up, expectedly, the context of his remarks couldn’t have been lost on anyone. The United States had passed up, once again, a chance to elect a woman as its president just a few weeks ago, someone Obama had campaigned for.

The country took nearly 220 years since its first presidential election to elect an African American president, and as a Protestant-majority country it waited more than 170 years to pick its first Catholic president, John F Kennedy.

And, as Obama said, it has had no Jewish or Hindu person as president or even one from the Latino community, which is the largest minority community in the US now, overtaking African Americans. There are about 4 million Jews and an estimated 2.29 million Hindus in the US.

They have a long way to go. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who became the first Hindu elected to the US Congress (the House of Representatives) in 2012, is often spoken as a leading prospect from this tiny religious minority.

Gabbard was joined in 2017 by three more Hindus, all Indian Americans — Rohit “Ro” Khanna, Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi. Gabbard is not of Indian descent, although people often mistake her as one since she is a Hindu.

Any one of them could some day become president if, as Obama said while reflecting on his own election, America continued to give every citizen equal opportunity. “Inequality”, he said, is among a few things he worries about as he leaves office.

First Published: Jan 19, 2017 12:17 IST