Schwarzenegger for president? Arnold should run – and not just because he'd beat Trump.

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Dear Arnold,

In Netflix’s new action series, “FUBAR,” you’re compelling as a retiring CIA agent pulled back into intelligence madness because he didn’t realize his daughter is also a secret agent.

You also may not realize that, in real life, the door just opened for you to be pulled back into the FUBAR (“F’ed Up Beyond All Recognition”) of our national politics. I’m writing to ask you to walk through that door, and run for president for the good of our country.

You’ve previously said that you would run for president, if not for two facts: that you were born an Austrian, and that Article II, Sec. 1 of the U.S. Constitution says “no Person except a natural born Citizen… shall be eligible to the Office of President.”

The article hasn’t changed, but American devotion to the Constitution and its provisions on presidential eligibility has.

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks onstage at an Evening with Arnold Schwarzenegger presented by Fane at London Palladium on Oct. 24, 2023 in London.
Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks onstage at an Evening with Arnold Schwarzenegger presented by Fane at London Palladium on Oct. 24, 2023 in London.

Voters have the right to choose the president they want, regardless of the Constitution

For this, Donald Trump is responsible. Incredibly, he has inspired leading Democrats and Republicans to take the position that being constitutionally ineligible to serve as president is no longer a barrier to running for president.

A new consensus is emerging: Voters have the right to choose whomever they want as president, no matter what the Constitution says.

Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump

This is the product of Trump’s own ineligibility. The Constitution’s 14th Amendment bars any officer of the U.S. who took a constitutional oath and then “engaged in insurrection” – as Trump did – from holding another government office. Leading constitutional scholars, from right and left, have affirmed that Trump isn’t eligible.

Trump Jan. 6 role should disqualify him: Supreme Court should ban Trump from the ballot. And not worry about the political fallout.

But being ineligible hasn’t stopped Trump from running from office or from remaining on the ballot in every state, including the two states, Colorado and Maine, that ruled him ineligible. With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to decide the eligibility question nationwide, and its conservative majority all but certain to keep Trump on ballots, state actions have not taken effect.

Arnold, this makes clear that you can run. Who could object without looking like a hypocrite?

Presidential election should welcome foreign-born contenders

The courts can’t, once they’ve blessed Trump’s unconstitutional run. Trump certainly can’t, given his own ineligibility and his repeated promises to “terminate” the U.S. Constitution itself.

The media won’t stop Trump, because they need him to draw audiences and keep their failing enterprises afloat. Democrats won’t stop him because they want to run against him – he’s the weakest Republican presidential contender. And Trump’s Republican challengers are too scared of his base to challenge him aggressively.

You, on the other hand, have challenged him openly for years. And he hasn’t laid a glove on you in response. That’s because you’re an entertainer even more skilled than Trump at parrying media attacks.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Environmentalists are behind the times. And need to catch up fast.

In entering the race, you should emphasize that Republicans and Democrats, by keeping Trump on the ballot, have rubber-stamped the principle that voters should get to choose whomever they want. When opponents refer to that Article II requirement that candidates be natural born, you should make two arguments. First:  you’ve always felt American in your heart and soul – a “natural born” American, in fact. Second: If the Biden vs. Trump matchup is the best that native-born citizens can manage, then it’s high time to welcome foreign-born contenders.

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You shouldn’t just run to stop Trump. You should run to win.

While interviewing you this summer, you offered huge visions of the future – for education, for health, and for rebuilding American infrastructure. By contrast, President Biden hasn’t offered a serious second-term agenda, much less a vision. And Trump talks endlessly about the past, about grievance, about lost elections.

I know running for president is hard, and, yes, you’re 76 years old. But you’re still younger than Trump and Biden. And running for president when the Constitution says you can’t might look crazy and illegitimate. But the recall that elected you in California was also called crazy and illegitimate.

I know that your friends and family won’t want you jumping into politics again.

But is anything more important than trying to save our FUBAR country?

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. This column first published in the Ventura County Star.

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This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Arnold for president? Schwarzenegger could beat Trump, Biden in 2024