One chance in 10 million?
A black-swan event occurred Monday in Miami. That’s an event that is a rare, sometimes unprecedented, such as the initial sighting of a black swan in Australia in 1636 by a Dutch sailor, Antoine Caen.
Miami’s black-swan event took place at the Freedom Tower, when Sen. Marco Rubio announced his candidacy for president.
Cubans are a tiny percentage of the American population — well under 1 percent. But the Cubans that could be candidates for the U.S. presidency are an even tinier percentage: Many Cuban Americans were born outside the United States. What’s more, it generally takes many generations before a member of a particular group runs for president.
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Gov. Jeb Bush, for example, is a 15th-generation American. And, President Bill Clinton’s ancestors trace their roots back in the United States for some 10 generations.
Rubio is a second-generation Cuban American. Both of his parents were born in Cuba. I estimate, based on these and other factors such as his age, 43, that the chance of Rubio running for president is about 1/10,000. But another second-generation Cuban American, 44-year-old Sen. Ted Cruz, was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. The chances of the two of them announcing their candidacy for the presidency within a month of each other I estimate at one in 10 million.
Some might say they might have predicted this black swan. Cubans are, relative to their population, the best represented ethnic group in the U.S. Congress, with five congressmen and three senators.
True, there are numerous extraordinary examples of Cuban-American successes despite their brief history in America: Three senators; two former cabinet members: Mel Martinez and Carlos Gutierrez; two famous movie stars: Cameron Diaz and Andy Garcia; and about a half-dozen billionaires. But notwithstanding these remarkable achievements, Monday’s black-swan event trumps them all.
Could this have happened in any other country in the world? France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia? Or anywhere else?
Monday’s event really is a tribute to American exceptionalism: Individualism. Freedom. Democracy.
We are the “Cuisinart” of world talent and opportunity. If we triumph, it’s because the best of many lands come together to make a world-class stew.
Modesto Maidique, president emeritus, Florida International University, Miami