Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

On Valentine’s Day, we ask: Can an unmarried person become president?

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Originally published on on Wed, 02/13/2008 – 10:20pm

Does being single eliminate you from consideration for president? No, but it’s not easy.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and in that spirit, we open up the thought of whether we could elect a president who didn’t have a special valentine. In the 21st century, could we have an unmarried president?

Michael Bloomberg, if he had entered the race, would have received such scrutiny. Bloomberg, 65, is divorced but does have a companion, so I guess he does have a valentine.

Unlike females and African-Americans, we have had unmarried presidents. James Buchanan was the only president never to be married.

Bob Kerrey and Jerry Brown have run as bachelors, but the last presidential nominee to be a bachelor was Adlai Stevenson, who was divorced and ran twice for the presidency in 1952 and 1956.

There wasn’t a single unmarried president in the 20th century. You have to go back to 1885 for the last person to become president while unmarried, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland certainly wasn’t seen as a celibate man, with opponents coming up with “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?” as an unofficial campaign slogan to reflect his behavior (he did later admit to paying child support).

In 1886, Cleveland married the daughter (Francis) of his best friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom. At 21, Francis became the youngest First Lady. (By contrast, Elizabeth Kucinich is an “ancient” 30.)

And we have had an unmarried vice president: William Rufus deVane King, who died after only serving 45 days as vice president under Franklin Pierce in 1853. There has been speculation that King was gay, and for what it’s worth, he lived with Buchanan for 15 years in Washington, DC.

Current Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a possible nominee for VP for John McCain, is a bachelor. Crist was married for six months from July 1979 to December 1980.

Hopefully, Americans could handle a president in a committed relationship (gay or straight), but might wonder if a president should think about dating while in the White House. But then again, there is the movie “American President,” written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Douglas as a widower president. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know if Annette Bening gets to be his valentine.

So if you are single on this Valentine’s Day, treat yourself well and hold your head up high. If nothing else, if you get to be president, you have a great ice-breaker when meeting someone.


Written by democracysoup

February 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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