The First Shall be Last

Now that the “major party” conventions are over the ads and pundits (neither having anything to do with reality) can begin. It was less than a week ago that news broadcasts, outlets, websites, feeds, and editors began remarking on the nation’s first woman candidate for president. Someone even went so far as to note that this fall, the US voters will get to cast ballots for their first woman, first outsider, or first third party president. And that on the heels of the outgoing first African-America president. Actually, none of those labels are correct. I’ll ‘splain that later. First, let’s look at some legitimate firsts that really have happened over this last year.

Actually the first first hasn’t officially happened yet but some games have already taken place and the opening ceremonies will take center stage tomorrow night in Rio. That first is the first Olympic games to be held in South America. The odds have been against that particular continent since the games re-appeared in 1896. That’s because South America is almost completely in the Southern Hemisphere. In the 120 year history of the modern Olympics this is only the third time the summer games have been held in the Southern Hemisphere. (The other two times have both been in Australia.) The Winter Olympics have never taken place south of the Equator.

The second first just happened in the past few days and it got very little press even within the United States which is odd since every news broadcast, outlet, website, etc., etc. was so big on talking about firsts. That news was that for the first time the Center for Disease Control released a travel advisory for within the US encouraging travelers not to do so in South Florida. They even came up with some suggestions for the people who live there – try to stay inside.

The third first is (and here let’s dispense with individually numbering each first and collectively address all the remaining firsts as “remaining firsts begin with”) Cuba now has wireless internet service for the first time. Sticking with computers, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a drug manufactured by 3D printing for the first time. (High dose Levetiracetam for epilepsy). Still with computers but heading back south, the Rio Olympics will be the first games where every event will be available somewhere on-line.  In entertainment of a different kind, a film grossed over 500 million dollars in its opening weekend for the first time (Jurassic World). And speaking of DNA (Jurassic World, remember) human trials on T-cell augmented cancer treatments using the body’s own cells to fight cancer began this year. And if you want to write about that and be grammatically correct while addressing a particular test subject without knowing his or her sex, you may now officially use the third person singular and not be chastised by your grade school English teacher.

So the next time you have to hear about the first woman running for president consider that there have been 5 women nominated by recognized political parties on general election ballots for president. In fact, 1884 the Equal Rights Party presented an all woman ticket for president and vice president. And the next time you have to hear about the first outsider running for president consider that four sitting presidents never held an elected position before being elected president. And when you next hear of how a third party candidate could win this year’s election consider that of the 44 elected presidents, only 30 have been republicans or democrats. One (Washington) had no party affiliation (and yes, there were political parties then), and one (Tyler) changed parties while in office.

If you should hear about any of these “firsts” feel free to mention to the speaker to not worry, there are lots of other real firsts going on all around us. All they have to do is pick their head out of their – ummm… All you have to do is look.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

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