|We all love Oprah, but she definitely should not be president|
PRESIDENT Oprah Winfrey.
Get used to hearing that, because in about three years, it will probably be her official title.
Oprah’s wonderful, moving speech at the Golden Globes unleashed an intense wave of speculation she will run for president in 2020. Far from quashing the rumours, those who know her best have actively stoked them.
“It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it,” Oprah’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times. CNN, citing two of her friends, reports she is actively considering the idea.
Oprah certainly sounded presidential yesterday, as she gave voice to the Golden Globes’ theme of fighting back against sexual abusers with incredible poise.
“I want all the girls watching to know that a new day is here on the horizon,” she said, in a quote every news bulletin has been playing virtually non-stop ever since.
“And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”
She owned the stage. It was utterly captivating. In fact, it felt eerily similar to Barack Obama’s famous speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which launched him from obscurity to become a White House contender.
If Oprah does run for president, she’ll win. Of course she will.
She’s a far bigger and more popular star than Donald Trump was when he turned to politics.
They are both billionaires (if you believe what Trump says about his self-worth), but unlike him, she had to fight her way out of poverty to get there.
She’s a better orator than him, a better businessperson, a better manager, a better philanthropist, and by all accounts a better person.
She would eat Trump alive.
And if you think any conventional politician, with a name known only to people who follow politics religiously, would have a hope in hell of stealing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination from a star as big as Oprah, you were not paying attention during the last two years.
Celebrity beats experience. Charisma beats policy. And no one can match Oprah on either count.
If Trump could win an election — he was despised by half the country and, quite blatantly, often had no idea what he was talking about — a star as smart and articulate as her will have no trouble.
Think of the story. Oprah’s life is already inspirational, and rising to become America’s first female president would only elevate her further. It would probably make her one of the most famous people in history. Which is nice.
But just because Oprah could be president, that doesn’t mean she should be.
The rush of excitement about her potential candidacy and chorus of people urging her to run show just how much Trump has twisted our idea of who and what a president should be.
Oprah is a remarkable woman with a long list of achievements to her name, but she has no political experience. None. What are her policy ideas? Does she have any clue how to govern? How would she deal with a nutjob like Kim Jong-un? We don’t know the answer to any of those questions.
She clearly speaks well, which is important for a politician, but ultimately has more bearing on someone’s ability to get elected than to get anything done once they attain power.
Elections are about speechmaking. Governing is about hard work behind the scenes. It’s about ironing out boring policy details and forging deals between people with disparate interests. Those are the things actual politicians excel at.
Trump, another inexperienced and untested celebrity, won 60 million votes through the sheer force of his personality. How did that turn out? The world is now struggling to deal with a US president who seemingly lacks the basic knowledge and skills to do his job properly.
I suspect Oprah would better apply herself to the duties of the presidency. Trump either doesn’t have the self-awareness to recognise his faults or doesn’t care enough to correct them — flaws she hopefully does not share.
But the point remains. How can the same people who spent an entire election year blasting Trump for his lack of experience, and mocking Trump’s supporters for being starstruck, suddenly and so enthusiastically jump on the celebrity candidate bandwagon?
The same standard must apply to both Trump and Oprah. He wasn’t ready to be president, and as far as we can tell, neither is she.
Yes, I know, normal politicians are dishonest pricks and nobody likes them, which makes celebrity candidates more appealing. Still, there is a reason they exist.
We hate lawyers too, but if we need someone to defend us in court, guess who we turn to? Not the nearest TV star. We want someone who knows what they’re doing.
The same principle is at stake here. Who do you want running the government, commanding the world’s most powerful military, and dealing with Russia or North Korea — someone who can probably be trusted to, at the very least, not screw everything up, or a complete amateur who happens to be good on television?
If your goal is to watch the system burn, that’s fine. Pick the celebrity. But I don’t think many of Oprah’s fans, or ultimately many voters, consciously fall into that category.
Still, if she runs, she will win. That is the power of fame now.
The cult of celebrity is fairly harmless when it leads to someone like Kim Kardashian making squillions of dollars. When it gives Donald Trump the power to launch nuclear weapons, however, that is a danger sign.
The solution is not to double down and replace him with another celebrity. The US presidency is not an instrument of fame; it is the most powerful and important job on the planet.
If Oprah wants that job, she needs to prove she can do it. Being rich, famous and an enthralling public speaker is not enough.
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