Felons should not be allowed to serve as president

Minimalist art of Donald Trump behind prison bars over a beige background

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo / The Cougar

On May 30, Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony charges, making him the first former American president to hold felon status. Expectedly, this has sparked nationwide commentary and debates about how this should affect the upcoming 2024 election.

A convicted felon is eligible to serve as president per the United States Constitution. However, allowing it is morally tactless. Given the current consequences a felony conviction has on the average American, felons should not be allowed to serve as president.

Holding a felony conviction is a life-altering status for most Americans. The specific restrictions vary from state to state and with the severity of the conviction, but generally, it can prevent citizens from securing jobs, loans, government assistance — including FAFSA —, housing and voting.

Trump’s wealth and status exclude him from most of these consequences. In the event that he does win the 2024 election and serves his second term, working-class citizens nationwide will be reminded that the rich play by different rules.

In addition to highlighting disparities between the rich and everyone else, a felony conviction is grounds for a call to question one’s integrity.

In the case of law students, prospective lawyers must inform the bar examiners of any indiscretions at any point in life. This includes anything from noise complaints and speeding tickets to misdemeanors and felonies. The purpose of this is to minimize the amount of morally unethical lawyers and in turn, minimize the chance of harm to the public. 

It should be acknowledged that lawyers may pass the bar exam with a felony conviction in most states, as it is determined on a case-by-case basis. However, lawyers are responsible for the lives of a select few, the president is responsible for both American lives and those in other countries. Harm reduction should be of utmost priority when considering a president.

Consequences for the average convicted felon include many restrictions related to basic needs, such as jobs, housing and federal assistance. These limitations continue even after serving prison time or finishing a probationary period. It’s undeniable that permitting a felon to serve as president sends a contradictory and elitist message to the public about breaking the law and its consequences.

If American citizens are so blatantly shown that law and order does not apply to the elite, how can they trust their government to represent them fairly?

Donald Trump is no stranger to the spotlight and has been the topic of national political discussion since his successful presidential campaign back in 2016.  The recent convictions follow in his pattern of controversial behavior; however, the conversations being had are arguably more important than the one who inspired them.

It is shown time and time again that the rich and everyone else live in two different worlds and abide by considerably different rules. Simply put, it is unfair for the average American to be robbed of basic experiences due to a felony conviction while rich Americans’ lives are virtually unaffected. 

It is abhorrent of the American government to allow such disparities to exist between classes. Unless felony conviction consequences are modified overall, it is morally unacceptable for a felon to serve as president.

Reanah Coates is a junior strategic communications major that can be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment