Oprah for President?

The Journal's lifestyle editors discuss whether Oprah should be taken seriously as a candidate

Oprah on a billboard
Photo: 
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Josh Granovsky

As an American citizen and a politics major, my eyes rolled to the back of my head when I heard Oprah was being considered as a legitimate presidential candidate for 2020.

After an inspiring speech at the Golden Globes and some past stirring about a potential candidacy, news outlets like CNN and The New York Times have started addressing the rumours.

Even President Trump was asked about it at a press conference. Maybe I’m naïve or a politics purist but is it really too much to ask to have someone in office who actually has some politics expertise?

When Trump announced his bid for presidency in 2016, I already knew it would mean lots of other celebrities coming out of the woodwork to talk about a potential 2020 candidacy. Right off the bat, that included Kanye West and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson claiming they wanted to run.

Let’s be honest; the job is no easy feat. Being able to know the ins and outs of the system of politics is only going to make the job easier.

Oprah, despite all of her strengths, lacks the political knowledge necessary for the position, which would only make her time in office more complicated. We’re at a time in politics where there’s a lot of damage that can be done. The environment is continuing to be endangered, tension between the US and North Korea is at an all-time high and healthcare is still heavily under debate.

While I have no doubt Oprah’s opinions on all these issues would line up with those of the Democratic party, the problem comes with implementation. If she was to become President, I doubt she’d have the knowledge and tools to successfully navigate these issues when it was time to enact bills to create laws.

I understand Oprah’s intersectionality could be an asset to the government but there are many other women or people of colour who have dedicated their lives to politics that would do a much better in office.

Oprah’s a great person, but at the end of the day, what we need is someone who actually has an idea of what’s going on in our political sphere.

— Shivani Gonzalez

Before anyone angrily calls me out in the comments section, I’d like to get a few things out in the open. I don’t know much about politics, I can’t vote in the United States and I’m honestly not even overly familiar with Oprah.

Aside from her omnipresence in popular culture, my only experiences with her have been through YouTube clips, articles and her speech at the Golden Globes that led Twitter users to get #Oprah2020 trending. 

What a glorious speech it was.

When I started reading reactions in the news about Oprah’s possible presidential bid, I was surprised to see so many people immediately shutting down the idea. A large part of the media gave a collective groan at the thought of another celebrity inhabiting the Oval Office. While I admittedly am not well-versed in ideal presidential candidate qualities, I see a lot of potential in the idea of President Oprah.

For starters, Oprah’s not just a uniting force. She is the uniting force. Her story of rising from poverty to billionaire status has universal appeal. Her massive philanthropic efforts aim to bring equal education opportunities to all. Her talk show and other television ventures invite everyone to create a safe space with her, once commanding 25 million daily viewers.

Essentially, Oprah is everything Trump isn’t. She’s an African-American woman who wants to peacefully bring people together, as opposed to a white man who wants to literally build a wall to keep people apart. Oprah’s election would serve as a welcome contrast to the current administration’s divisiveness.

But in my amateur opinion, I don’t just trust Oprah to lead a country through a message of unity. I trust her to lead a country because I believe she has the potential to bring together and inspire the best change-makers out there.

Oprah’s self-made success is comprised of constantly smart decisions and most of those come from the teams she assembles to get the job done. 

When Oprah wanted to create a safe space for TV viewers, she found now-TV-mainstays Dr. Phil and Iyanla Vanzant. When Oprah wanted to expand her productions into a company, she recruited veteran TV and radio executive Erik Logan. 

President Trump said earlier this week, “what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in [the Oval Office] come up with.” 

If so much of the country’s decision-making is based on a large group of advisors, I can’t imagine anyone turning down an invitation from Oprah to help run the country.

I’m not asking anyone to donate to the Winfrey 2020 campaign or anything. I just want people to seriously consider Oprah’s strengths as a leader before blaming the idea on Trump lowering the criteria to become president. From where I stand, we live in a seriously upside-down society if the most popular and positively influential woman in the world doesn’t qualify as presidential material.

— Josh Granovsky

 

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