January 15, 2018
Original Photo by: Bill Ebbesen
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a Point/Counter-Point piece on the possibility of an “Oprahfied” U.S. Presidential run in 2020. To read the counter-point, click here.
The big story coming out of this past Sunday’s Golden Globes was Oprah’s empowering speech which immediately sparked rumors that this was a sort of soft presidential run announcement for 2020. As with just about everything these days the Internet erupted into a divisive debate as to whether or not Oprah should run for President of the United States, if she would be qualified and if celebrities should ever be considered for the highest political office.
The thing is, we are living in a post-Trump election world. The debate about celebrities running for president, or even if they are qualified is frankly moot. While Oprah does not have any government experience that does not necessarily mean that she would make for a poor candidate for President.
It has been written that the political elite was seen as the thin layer of the educated, affluent public who are in a position to communicate their views to government. While not all celebrities are educated, they are definitely successful, well-known individuals and some are able to communicate their views to government through a variety of mediums, thus making them part of the political elite. Oprah has clout and she for sure can communicate her views to government, or even be the government.
You might argue that just because Oprah has power and influence does not mean she would make a good President. Why just in our own backyard a man with seemingly a lot of power and influence named Danny Williams served as the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Residents of this province also seemed to hold him in high regard as one of, (if not the) greatest Premiers the province has ever seen.
Mr. Williams was also a respected lawyer, which is a common career to have when you have political aspirations. Our current Prime Minister was a teacher, but that also does not mean that every teacher and every lawyer would make a good President or Prime Minister.
Politics is also a popularity contest. You win an election when you get the most votes (most of the time anyway), the same way as you become Prom King or Queen. Oprah can talk. She can inspire. She can make people buy a book. Oprah’s speech at the Globes was far more inspiring and resonating than just about anything Hillary Clinton has ever said and drawn comparisons to one Barack Obama who gave a lot of people hope.
The argument can also be made that electing another billionaire to the White House would just be replacing a current out of touch “billionaire” with another. Just because she has money doesn’t mean she is out of touch. Oprah started from the bottom and now she’s here partnering with Weight Watchers and having struggles with weight like many of us, opening schools for African girls and telling the stories of those who can’t speak for themselves while hanging with JAY-Z in the projects drinking quarter waters.
Would Oprah make a good President? Truthfully, no one can say for sure either way. At this point, we are using what we already know about her to make a decision in support or against. We do not know what her political platform would be, we can joke about it including cars, and health care for everyone but the truth is we don’t know. This is what the Primaries are for; she can debate other candidates and be questioned and vetted.