Cenk Uygur announces his campaign for president on The Young Turks

No One Is Buying Cenk Uygur’s Delusional Campaign for President

Controversial progressive pundit Cenk Uygur made the surprising announcement this week that he is challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president—or at least he thinks he is. The big problem? As a Turkish-American immigrant, Uygur is ineligible. The founder of The Young Turks media channel on YouTube was born in Istanbul and immigrated to the United States when he was eight years old.

Recommended Videos

Right or wrong, the Constitution is extremely clear on this point: Only natural-born American citizens can be president. Uygur weirdly shrugged off this requirement, telling Semafor reporter Dave Weigel that his candidacy will end up before the Supreme Court and that his case will be a “slam dunk.” It’s not clear how he thinks that will work unless he is planning on taking Supreme Court members on some extremely extravagant vacations in the coming months.

His entry into the race drew widespread ridicule online, as people quoted the Constitution, noted that his attacks on Biden could only help Trump, and called him a grifter only out for donations. Not exactly the enthusiastic reception that a presidential candidate might hope for!

So why is he running? Apparently, because Biden is old, Donald Trump is a fascist, and he’s the sole person who can save democracy. He even likened himself to Paul Revere, giving himself credit for sounding the alarm on an issue that people are already talking about.

“He is not going to win,” Uygur said of Biden on his show. Without sharing his math, he estimated that Biden has at best a 10 percent chance of defeating Trump. “Yes, I am a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ candidate. It should not be me, it should be someone else, but unfortunately, it has not been anyone else.”

Uygur said he was running to win, but also running as a proxy for someone else to enter the race. His plan is to rack up 20 to 25 percent support for himself in the polls to show everyone how “weak” Biden is. Then maybe Biden would drop out, and maybe someone else—no one specific!—would enter the race.

There are a whole lot of maybes in this Rube Goldberg-esque plan to save democracy, and it all hinges on the biggest maybe of all—that a quarter of Democratic primary voters would support Uygur, a self-described loudmouth with zero experience in government who crashed and burned in his one attempt to enter politics.

When running for former Rep. Katie Hill’s House seat in California, Uygur received just 6.6 percent of the vote. Although he holds many popular progressive positions, Uygur has a history of making offensive comments about women, Jews, Muslims, and others. More recently, former TYT host Bennie Carollo posted a video explaining why she left The Young Turks over the increasingly transphobic positions of Uygur and co-host Ana Kasparian. So he can pretty much forget the LGBTQ vote.

If Uygur really wants to help prevent a fascist Trump regime, he might consider doing something that’s actually helpful, like talking to his many viewers about all the common ground he says he shares with Biden and pushing the president to continue to do more on progressive economic priorities.

Many people on the left wish we weren’t stuck with an 80-year-old moderate running in 2024. But until we have a better system (ranked-choice voting, anyone?), long-shot primary challenges or third-party runs only help ensure the worst-case scenario. And a no-shot candidacy like this one is just lunacy.

(featured image: screenshot/The Young Turks)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.