Saturday, October 5, 2019

Trump is Only the 44th Person to Become President

Presidential Numerical Nicknames & The Grover Cleveland Rule

Impeachment, constitutional provisions and U.S. Senate rules are in the news.  So now is an appropriate time to discuss The Grover Cleveland Rule.

Cleveland was first elected as the 22nd president, for a term from 1885 to 1889.  Cleveland was the 22nd individual to become president. 

In the next election, where Cleveland again won the popular vote, he lost in the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison.  Harrison became the 23rd president, with a term from 1889 to 1893. 

In the following election, Grover Cleveland won both the popular vote and the Electoral College.  The second term ran from 1893 to 1897. 

As of 1893, only 23 individuals had become president.

But, on lists of presidents, Cleveland appears as the 24th president.

When George W. Bush became president in 2001, it became common to refer to him as 43.  Forty-three is where George W. Bush is on lists of presidents.  George W. Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, is 41 on the lists.

But George H. W. Bush was the 40th person to become president, and George W. Bush was the 42nd person to become president.

So while the presidents (and headline writers) may enjoy the numerical nicknames, to date, the United States has, including Donald J. Trump, only had 44 individuals who have been president.

The Grover Cleveland Rule says do not confuse a president’s position on a list of presidents (his or her numerical nickname) with the number of how many individuals have become president.

If the current president is impeached, the following two statements would be consistent with The Grover Cleveland Rule.

“ ‘45’ has been impeached.”

“Of the 44 men who have become president, Donald J. Trump is only the third to be impeached.”

The following statement would be inconsistent with The Grover Cleveland Rule:

“The 45th president has been impeached.”