Will there ever be another unmarried president?

Saw this on Facebook:

Reminds me of the time I saw a news story about “the Australian prime minister’s boyfriend,” and my immediate reaction was, “What!? The Australian prime minister ISN’T MARRIED?” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just seems to be very rare these days for world leaders not to be married. It seems that there’s very strong pressure for leaders of democratic countries to project a certain “family man” image (or “family person,” in countries were they’ve started electing women).

In US history, James Buchanan is the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor. And I suspect the chances of that happening again have actually gone down since Buchanan’s day; mass media means a lot more scrutiny for politician’s public personas (if not, sadly, their policies and parts of their character actually relevant to the job) and a lot more pressure to conform in that area.

Of course, as I pointed out to a friend not long ago, forever is a long time and social norms could easily change in several decades to be more accepting of single people.

  • Stephanie

    I just hope people realise that she was joking around when she said that, and she’s not actually trying to compare levels of persecution.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Ah, I didn’t realize that. (Honestly, my reaction to the quote was, “fair point, but how do you really compare?”)

  • MNb

    “family person,”
    Lesbian, christian and socialist:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ien_Dales

    That she was christian I only learned today.
    I am not saying The Netherlands are ideal, but these problems quite vary per country.

    • Chris Hallquist

      That doesn’t surprise me. In the United States, we have a couple openly gay congresscritters. (Wikipedia tells me the first one came out in 1982, 10 years after being elected.) Finally getting an openly gay president will be another matter, though.

      Also, being gay is compatible with being a “family person” in the sense I had in mind. With gay marriage becoming legal in an increasing number of US states, it’s entirely possible that the first gay president will be married with kids.

  • http://tangowithfoxtrot.wordpress.com/ propater

    I have the impression the “family man” (I wonder how that plays out for women) trope is highly dependent on local political culture (and definitely something I associate with the USA). I do not see it in Belgium, I am not aware of this in the Netherlands or Germany either (could be wrong.) It sometimes makes an appearance in France but mostly around the persona of the president.

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