Is America Ready For A Single President? by J. Weiss

Is America Ready For A Single President? by J. Weiss

This article, or the tweets advertising it, were saying that the public is “fascinated” by “bachelors.”

It’s so sexist. The public has never been “fascinated” by women who remain single. We single, (never-married) women instead get insults and derogatory labels such as “cat lady” or “spinster.”

(Link): Is America Ready For A Single President?


by J. Weiss, Feb 9, 2019

Cory Booker is about to find out just how much U.S. attitudes about politicians and their personal lives have shifted.

A bachelor in the White House? It’s such a compelling scenario that Aaron Sorkin once wrote a movie about it.

“The American President” came out in 1995, years before “The West Wing” and decades before never-married Senator Cory Booker announced own run for president. Michael Douglas stars as a widowed commander in chief who falls for an environmental lobbyist. (They meet cute when he overhears her insulting him in a White House meeting room.)

Their courtship is a lesson in the perils of presidential dating: the media mob, the character attacks, the moment where the president has to choose between his crime bill and his girlfriend’s clean air bill. On the second date, he also seems to tell her some classified security information, though the movie doesn’t make a big deal out of that.

It’s clear that every moment is a minefield, for both the president and the person he’s trying to woo—something Booker seems to grasp as he makes the media rounds in these early days of his campaign.

During his appearance on the syndicated morning radio show “The Breakfast Club” early this month, the conversation turned to his dating life—“Cory Booker got a boo?” exclaimed a host named Charlamagne—and the man known for glib speeches in Senate hearing rooms got cagey, all of a sudden. “Out of all the issues we talked about,” Booker stammered, “this is the most uncomfortable part of this interview.”

Like it or not, it’s going to keep coming up.

The American public is fascinated by bachelorhood, and also eager to see single men married off—hence our keen interest in the dating habits of British royals, and the umpteen-thousand hours produced of “The Bachelor.”

As much as the boundaries and definitions of marriage have changed—and over the course of the nation’s history, they’ve changed dramatically—matrimony is still seen as the normal state of a responsible adult. And, under most circumstances, we want our presidents to seem normal, and responsible.

That means any candidate who breaks the norm is subject to a string of nosy questions, some masked as queries about official White House functions.

When Senator Lindsey Graham, then a never-married 59-year-old, sought the 2016 Republican nomination, he had to keep explaining that his sister would help him with ceremonial duties. At one point, he told the (Link): Daily Mail, “I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating First Lady.”

Graham’s campaign fizzled before he was asked to explain much more. It’s unclear whether Booker’s candidacy will go farther.

But Booker cuts a different profile from Graham: He’s 49, often spotted out on the town, and arguably the subject of more speculation about his sexuality and his dating status. (The most recent ones suggest that his boo is the actress Rosario Dawson.) That means his candidacy could be a test case for how much American attitudes have changed.

In the political arena, some identifications are sacred cows; it’s hard to imagine a presidential candidate declaring herself an atheist and making it very far. Will bachelorhood be hard to sell, as well? Or, now that we’ve finally acknowledged how dysfunctional some presidential marriages have been, will the public embrace a candidate who has never been married at all?

America has had exactly two presidents who entered office never having married. The most recent was Grover Cleveland…

Then there was James Buchanan. In his 20s, he was briefly engaged to a woman who broke off the betrothal…

And for this next part of this essay that makes me want to vomit profusely, because it is unfortunately oh so true, especially among Christians who have turned marriage, natalism, and The Nuclear Family into golden calves that they worship:

…But by the late 19th century, leading public figures had warmed to the value of family, and then some.

America’s self-image soon became bound with the idea that families were the building blocks of the nation, and that putting the family first was a moral virtue. “The family is the digesting organ of the body politic,” the popular minister and speaker Henry Ward Beecher said at the time. “The very way to feed the community is to feed the family.”

That idea—family as a proxy for stability, responsibility and commitment to the nation—persists today.

That’s why nearly every candidate, for everything from school committee up to the highest office in the land, produces the same kind of campaign artifacts: the mailer with the happy family photo, the introductory TV ad with the family testimonials.

The format has lately been weaponized: Last summer, Rich Madaleno, a gubernatorial candidate in Maryland, (Link): released an ad in which he smooched his husband on the lips, then turned back to the camera and said, “Take that, Trump.”

Continuing on with excerpts from the paper:

Recent history suggests that the American public might actually care more about the existence of a spouse than about whether the marriage is a good one. We know now that plenty of presidential unions—not just the Trumps’ and Clintons’, but the Kennedys’, the Roosevelts’, the Johnsons’—have been less than perfect.

Still, there’s something about a single president that does seem … easier. More time for the president to focus on the job. No children for the press corps to navigate around…

…But Chafe suspects that voters, as suspicious as they are of presidential spouses, would be even more skeptical of a candidate with no spouse or marital prospects at all.

“You could be a widower or widow and it would be less important—there’s a sense of it being a normative kind of pattern,” he says. “If you haven’t had that kind of relationship, if you haven’t been married, if you haven’t had a family, you are potentially like a Rorschach. You can read anything into it you want to. And that can be dangerous.”

That could be the ultimate challenge for a single candidate: A marriage, even a bad one, is largely understood, but singlehood leaves much to the imagination. And there aren’t many models for how to neutralize the mystery.

Some high-profile single women in politics, such as Condoleezza Rice and Janet Reno, have projected themselves as essentially asexual, Coontz notes.

A single woman running for president, she says, “might have to play the virgin” to keep the tough questions at bay.

A single man, she thinks, would have more leeway. And Booker has done fairly well, so far, with the balancing act of promoting himself as a modern-day bachelor worth watching: a sexual creature, but safe; committed, but still effectively on the market.

Of course a “single man” would have “more leeway.” Because we live in a sexist culture in a sexist world where men have most things much easier than women do.

 Related Posts:

(Link):  Family as “The” Backbone of Society? – It’s Not In The Bible

(Link): Learning to See Your Single Neighbor by H. Stallcup

(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Is Not

(Link): Do You Rate Your Family Too High? (Christians Who Idolize the Family)

(Link): The Bible Does Not Teach Christians to “Focus On The Family” – The Idolization of Family by American Christians (article)

(Link): The Study of Why Men Stay Single: What No One Is Telling You by B. DePaulo

(Link): Society Has It Wrong: Married People Shouldn’t Get Benefits That Single People do Not by V. Larson

(Link):  Instone-Brewer: Ancient Jews Expected All to Marry, Was Illegal to Remain Single in Ancient Rome

(Link): Research: Being Single [or Fear of Being Single] is a Meaningful Predictor of Settling for Less in Relationships

(Link): Jesus Christ Removed the Stigma, Shame From Being Single and Childless – by David Instone Brewer

(Link): Really, It’s Okay To Be Single – In order to protect marriage, we should be careful not to denigrate singleness – by P. Chin

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): Singles Advocate DePaulo Responds to Right Wing, Conservative Critics of Singlehood, Who Blame Singles For Breakdown of The Family

(Link): ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists That Do Not Pathologize Singles

(Link): Stop Pressuring Women to Be Moms: It’s Insulting to Assume We All Want The Same Thing by R K Bussel

(Link):  Widower to Advice Columnist Talks about Being Stereotyped by Married Couples or Ignored by Other Marrieds Since His Wife has Died

(Link):  “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site

(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link): Creepy: ‘Barna Study: [Christian] Women Value Family Over Faith’

(Link):  The Case Against ‘Saving’ Marriage – Married Nuclear Families Are the Gold Standard Against Which We Are All Judged. by N. Rodgers

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