Running for president might have seemed a merely fanciful notion to Jon Stewart in the past. Now, it is a serious idea that deserves his serious consideration.

By Jeff Cohen

These are desperate times – with a divisive and demagogic Republican bent on revenge if he retakes the White House in January 2025, and an increasingly weak and unpopular Democratic incumbent who continues to stubbornly ignore the majority of his party that does not want him to run for re-election.

Jon Stewart, co-emcee at the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore's 35th Annual Awards Dinner, Arlington, Va., March 21, 2017

Although Jon Stewart has often laughed off the idea that he would ever run for president, current realities make the need for him to enter the Democratic primaries serious and compelling. He is a rare figure in the political realm who has demonstrated the humanity, intelligence, compassion, knowledge and leadership skills to lead our country in these desperate times. For decades at a national level, he has examined major domestic and global issues. 

  • He’s a political outsider who has proven how effective he can be working with Washington insiders.
  • He’s shown his deep solidarity with working-class people, including his dogged and successful battles in the halls of Congress on behalf of 9/11 responders and military veterans exposed to toxins.
  • He’s a progressive who understands the frustration, lack of elite accountability and “rampant corruption” that has pushed many voters toward the deadend of right-wing populism.
  • He’s a media figure who understands the lack of trust people have in mainstream news media that are too-often dominated by greed, commercialism, hype and petty divisiveness.
  • He’s a Jewish American who has stood up for the principle that Palestinian lives matter, and for an even-handed Israel-Palestine policy.
  • He’s much more than “just a celebrity” – in an era when, for good or ill, voters have elected celebrities to national leadership from our country to Ukraine and beyond.
  • He’s currently under-employed, having separated from a media company (Apple TV), reportedly due to “creative differences” over topics Stewart wanted to tackle, such as China and artificial intelligence.

If Jon Stewart were to announce that he’s running for president in the Democratic primaries, it would unleash an outpouring of support, grassroots donations, and impressive poll numbers — combined with a sense of relief that there’s finally a strong Democratic alternative to Joe Biden. And his campaign would spur seasoned activists from various movements to become enthusiastic about a presidential race that many had planned to ignore with Biden as the Democratic nominee. A Stewart campaign might even influence Joe Biden to step aside and not seek re-election.

Running for president might have seemed a merely fanciful notion to Jon Stewart in the past. Now, it is a serious idea that deserves his serious consideration.

Jeff Cohen is co-founder of, a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College and author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.” In 1986, he founded the media watch group FAIR.