Cognoscenti Cognoscenti

Support the news

Why I Am Not Running For President

The Oval Office at the White House in Washington is pictured Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
The Oval Office at the White House in Washington is pictured Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Last month, an obscure pundit named David French announced, apropos of nothing, that he would not be mounting an independent presidential bid. As a fellow obscure pundit, I now feel compelled to announce that I, too, will not be mounting a presidential bid.

This announcement feels especially crucial as the Never Trump movement slinks off into the sunset, and the stage is being set for The Donald’s week-long infomercial/nominating convention, later this month in Cleveland.

My decision — reached after nearly an hour of anguished contemplation — may come as a disappointment to those of you have urged me to pursue higher office. My wife, in particular, was hoping I would find something productive to do until November, something that did not involve standing around in my underwear screaming at the television.

The fact that our upcoming election features a dynastic defender of the status quo versus an adolescent anarcho-narcissist means there’s a lot of room along the third rail.

Of course, many Americans are partaking of that ritual right about now. After all, the Democrats and Republicans have just nominated the two most disliked candidates in the history of this candidate-disliking nation. There is a growing sense that our major parties represent a corrupt duopoly ripe for an electoral takedown.

For a long time, I hoped Bernie Sanders might be the guy to engineer this takedown. On the other side of the aisle, the rise of Trumpism clearly represents this same anti-establishment zeal, particularly if you are a Klansmen, a reality TV star or a hedge fund billionaire.

The fact that our upcoming election features a dynastic defender of the status quo versus an adolescent anarcho-narcissist means there’s a lot of room along the third rail.

The question then becomes: Why not run as a mid-list author and part-time advice columnist on the Free Love & Free Chocolate platform? Obviously, I’d do poorly with the Religious Right and the dental communities. On the other hand, my core positions are wildly popular with key demographic groups — stoners, suburban dads and millennials, to name just a few. Also, not only have I never worked in Washington, D.C., but I’m fairly certain I could not find it on a map.

So why not go for it? The chance to steer the course of the world’s sole remaining superpower only comes along every so often. Also: we really do need a bigger house.

In the end, unfortunately, I realized that my candidacy would be compromised by a long record of committing my beliefs to paper with almost no internal editing. By November, I suspect, I would wind up alienating virtually every segment of our electorate.

For instance, while I am on record as having opposed the war in Iraq, I have also recommended that the United States military invade France.

Add to this my somewhat sketchy record with a number of highly placed pundits. For instance, in the past I have made a number of salacious assertions about both Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. I am also on record as the author of an arguably pornographic short story entitled “How to Love a Republican,” which features the aftermath of the 2000 election and an array of indecent sexual acts.

In the end, unfortunately, I realized that my candidacy would be compromised by a long record of committing my beliefs to paper with almost no internal editing.

Perhaps most damning of all, I have gone after two of America’s most beloved sacred cows: former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart and football.

The number of American voters who agree with both of these positions — according to my internal polling — can be tallied on a single hand.

In the end, it would be unfair to subject my family, and myself to a long and nasty campaign. I want to offer sincere apologies to all of you who were hoping I would mount this historic bid, especially the kind citizen who left the Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Elect One banner on my front lawn.

Please be advised that I have not ruled out a run in 2020. Nor have I ruled out ruling out a run in 2020.

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

More…

Support the news