Disclaimer: the article below represents the noodlings of a dumbass who is talking about things way over his head, but which he nonetheless found interesting as a mental exercise.
James Buchanan was the first bachelor US President. JFK was the first Roman Catholic President. Richard Nixon was the first to resign from office. Barack Obama was the first African American President. That leaves some interesting milestones still ahead of us, such as first female, first (openly) gay, and first (openly) atheist/agnostic.
I think there’s a good chance that we’ll hit all of those milestones, at some point, and that it’s just a matter of ‘when’. I also think we’ll hit them in that order (female, gay, secular). And I also think that as we hit each milestone, it will create a greatly increasing disturbance among conservative US voters.
The first milestone, female, will not have any overtly negative reaction at home or abroad. There have been plenty of female heads of state, and anybody who publicly takes issue with that will be nearly universally condemned as a backwards nincompoop.
However, the next one (first gay) would set up the beginnings of a political holy war, as the groups who are anti-gay are really committed to being anti-gay. These are people who put the behavior of same-sex consenting adults in the same category as child molestation or bestiality. They will see a gay US President as the beginning of the end of the world, and will fight against it appropriately.
But the last one (first secular) would potentially set up an actual Holy War (notice the caps). There was a recent survey that showed that people of faith trust atheists to the same level that they trust rapists. Yes, really. And a group with that outlook is going to work diligently (to say the least) to prevent it from happening.
Just as an exercise (not a prediction), I could see the future of Presidential politics progressing thusly (major party candidates, unless otherwise specified):
2012 – Obama re-elected, possible female VP (Clinton)
2016 – female President
2020 – gay VP nominee
2024 – gay Presidential nominee
2028 – secular serious 3rd party Presidential candidate
2032 – gay President, secular VP nominee
2036 – secular President
Yes, that goes 24 years into the future, and that seems like forever. But consider if we were to look backwards, 24 years ago was the election of George H.W. Bush. Not that long ago, for some of us. Again, that is not a prediction as much as one possible future outcome, the likelihood of which is open to debate.
However, regardless of the actual dates and progression, I think we’ll eventually see female, gay, and secular presidents in the US, and that that progression of events will stir ever increasing ire among conservative Christian US voters.
Interestingly enough, there is another group whose reactions would, in my estimation, parallel those of conservative Christian US