From the Left



Oval Office: Convicted Felons Need Not Apply

Bill Press, Tribune Content Agency on

“My fellow Americans.” I’ve always been impressed when the President of the United States, began a speech from the Oval Office with that phrase. Because it meant that he was talking to all of us, regardless of party, about an issue that was so important all of us needed to take it seriously.

Think of John F. Kennedy, warning the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis; George W. Bush, after Sept. 11; Barack Obama, on the BP oil spill. Well, now it’s my turn.

“My fellow Americans:” We need to have a serious conversation about what’s at stake in this presidential election. That’s been true, ever since Donald Trump announced he was running for re-election. But it’s especially important now that he’s been convicted of 34 felonies and the Republican Party seems determined to make this convicted felon their standard-bearer in 2024.

That’s why this election is so critical. Because, unlike any other presidential campaign we’ve ever experienced, it’s not about a choice between two parties, two candidates, and two different sets of opinions on tax policy, climate change, affirmative action, or any other issue.

This time, the stakes are much, much higher. And they compel us to reflect on who we are as Americans, what we believe in, what we stand for, and what we’re willing to fight for: questions that go to the very essence of what this great nation is all about.

Do we believe in the Constitution? Do we believe in the rule of law? Do we believe that the law must apply equally to every American, regardless of sex, race, gender, wealth, job, or social class? Do we believe in the most fundamental tenet of the American justice system: that no one person is above the law? Do we love this country?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. If you answer “yes” to any one of those questions, there’s no way you can vote for Donald Trump. Period. He is the anti-law and order, anti-Constitution, anti-democracy, anti-American candidate.

Consider that Trump has already promised: to suspend the Constitution; to weaponize the Justice Department against his political opponents and critics in the media; to defund the FBI; and to pardon more than 1, 265 persons charged and 420 incarcerated for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Consider that Trump has already lost two court cases this year in New York state: along with other officers of the Trump organization, found guilty of financial fraud and fined $464 million; and found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against journalist E. Jean Carroll and fined $88.3 million.


Now add last week’s verdict: Trump found guilty on 34 counts of knowingly and deliberately falsifying records of hush money paid to a porn star in order to tilt the outcome of a federal election. He’s the first president accused of a federal crime and the first president convicted of a crime. And he still has three criminal trials ahead of him: in Georgia, for elec tion fraud; in Miami, for stealing top-secret presidential documents and refusing to return them; and in Washington, for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Donald Trump is no ordinary candidate. He’s a walking crime spree.

There was a time, not so long ago, when neither political party would consider nominating a convicted felon for dogcatcher, let alone for president of the United States. Which makes the rush of spineless Republican leaders to embrace a convicted felon so disgusting. One by one, they lined up to assert that 34 felonies is no big deal.

Ah, but breaking the law is a big deal. A “BFD,” as Joe Biden would say. Again, if we love our country, if we have any respect for the office of president, if we want other nations to respect us, if we want our kids to honor the law and have any faith in our government, we should not even consider having a convicted felon serve in the Oval Office.

My fellow Americans: this election is no longer about Donald Trump. It’s about us. It’s up to us – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all – to step up to save our democracy.

The challenge we face is the challenge President Biden issued in Normandy this week on the 80th anniversary of D-Day: “Their generation, in their hour of trial – the allied forces of D-Day did their duty. Now the question for us is, in our hour of trial, will we do ours?”

(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of 10 books, including: “From the Left: My Life in the Crossfire.” His email address is: Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)

©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



RJ Matson Joel Pett Kirk Walters Joey Weatherford Gary Varvel Jimmy Margulies