Oprah For President?
I’ve seen a lot of people on the right and libertarian circles speaking out against Oprah since her announcement that she will run for president, and I understand their point of view.
From what we know of her politics – which, to my knowledge, is mostly derived from what she’s said when supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy – the issue seems to be that she is yet another “out of touch billionaire,” one who, until now, has bragged about her disinterest in politics and hasn’t stated that she has much of a platform other than “standing up for women” (which, let’s be honest, in America often means buying into the mainstream Hollywood version of reality – unfounded and often debunked concepts like white privilege and the gender wage gap).
But before everyone jumps up to bash her because she’s running, let’s take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of this move.
The Democratic Party is in shambles. Bernie Sanders’ message is getting old and it seems he’s even talked himself out of many of his less than fanatical followers; not to mention I highly doubt many party elites want to see an actual self-described socialist in the Oval Office – the “communist” label is still not a brand many Democrats want to take on.
The difficulty they face is that, other than Bernie Sanders, very few Democrats have “household name”-level public familiarity, and those that do are as crazy as the “right-wing nuts” they claim are out there thumping bibles.
So whether they approached Oprah first or she just decided it was her time, the Democratic Party couldn’t have asked for a better miracle.
Trump has arguably been the best President for Americans that we’ve seen in our lifetime. You can disagree with his positions, his rhetoric, his brash (braggadocios, and seemingly over-sensitive) nature, and his hairstyle, but when you look at the facts he has done a lot to make good on his promises. Some examples are his taking a hard line on the United Nations and those who take American aid (billions of dollars worth) while biting the hand that feeds them; cutting wasteful spending in government; unprecedented privatization of formerly wasteful public programs; improvement in the American economy, labor force, and an unprecedented stock market rise; and legislation to curb the corruption and lobbying in Washington, D.C.
Is he the best option out there? Of course not, but when compared to George Bush, Barack Obama, or even Bill Clinton, in his effects on the economy and especially on personal liberty in the United States, it’s not even a question.
That’s why his supporters are so adamant about him no matter how contemptuous some might feel his personality might be – though, let’s be honest, comparing a brash and arrogant comportment to rape (in Bill Clinton’s case), deleterious wars and an empowered police state (in George W. Bush’s case), and political targeting, identity politics, and the consolidation of an unholy union between government, media, and entertainment (in Barack Obama’s case) helps to place things in perspective.
With that said, Oprah is beyond the perfect choice to counter Trump in the 2020 elections.
For one – who can hate on Oprah? She’s kind, caring, and authentic. She genuinely seems like she cares for others. That in itself is something so rare in this world that she would steal my heart and my vote. If you add to her nature the fact that she has a massive brand, one that’s beloved by hundreds of millions of people both in the United States and abroad, a brand that can be further expanded through the vast network of friends and fans that this amazing woman has she definitely seems like an incredibly powerful candidate. In fact, if she ran as an independent, she could easily be the first independent to win the presidency since George Washington.
Think, for example, of some of the powerhouse brands that would be pushing her candidacy in incredible and, until now, unutilized ways. Think of the millions of fans of Tony Robbins (an immensely popular brand and a good friend of Oprah’s), of Will Smith, of many, many well known people who are not currently involved in politics but have massive followings and would undoubtedly come out in favor of her candidacy. Think of the sheer number of people that will be reminded of her candidacy while listening to their morning motivation, think of the numerous podcasts, bloggers and fans that will be doing everything in their limited (but collectively gargantuan) power to promote the woman they have loved and trusted for decades.
Think of the hundreds of businesses, celebrities, and media personalities that will be promoting her for the presidency, as well as the usual suspects (mainstream media and Hollywood) who would take up their role as lapdogs and peddlers of any Democrat (regardless of any virtue or lack thereof), but finally have a chance to redeem their tarnished reputations by hitching their wagons to a person who exemplifies the kind of authentic care that Oprah does, and pretending that they, by association, share her values.
For Republicans, especially moderate and centrist Republicans, she is the perfect example of the American Dream; a “Rags to Riches” success story.
This woman shows that, in capitalist America, anyone (regardless of race or gender) who finds a way to help millions – even billions – of people can “make it.” Anyone can find success (regardless of struggles and barriers) if they are determined and especially if they can provide something that people want – tangible or intangible.
For Democrats, she is everything they could dream of. She exemplifies the virtue of emotional connection, of care and empathy, of concern for fellow human beings, and a desire to lift up those who’ve fallen.
She is wealthy enough and popular enough (popularity the Democrats desperately need), that the Democratic Party will be running with her rather than her running for the Democratic Party.
And for those on the left, who are unfortunate enough to be stricken with the disease that is the racism and sexism of identity politics, she is the minority woman they’ve dreamed of.
It’s honestly sickening how that classification cheapens the incredible story and personhood that is Oprah Winfrey. That some would be so gleeful not because of her amazing achievement, not because of her merit, or her potential or even for her ability, but simple because she was born of a certain gender or skin color… sad!
Oprah, if she runs, could very easily be the President in 2020. The downsides of inexperience have been tempered by the election of Trump, and will not be nearly enough to stop the credibility and trust she’s built through the years through her brand.
Unless she starts to peddle the hateful rhetoric of the insignificant (but loud) numbers of racists that continue to attempt to push identity politics, I don’t see anything that will keep the majority of Americans from voting for her in 2020.
What I believe libertarians and conservatives should do in this case, is to attempt to influence her platform and brand with common sense policies.
The one danger of an Oprah Winfrey presidency will be the potentially harmful people that will surround her as her cabinet and advisors.
Ones who will attempt to convince her that the way to best channel her empathy is to take more from others to fund ineffectual bureaucratic programs from which they (the bureaucrats, politicians, or “swamp”) will of course turn a nice profit.
She needs people around her who share her values, who understand economics, liberty, and the value of sound policy and who can help her to channel that desire (to make massive beneficial change in the world) into programs and policies that enhance freedom.
She needs people around her who can show her that the best way to help people get ahead is by getting government out of the way.
Rather than focusing on “inequality” she should focus on the fact that even though unequally wealthy (if one makes over $34,000 per year, they are a part of the 1%), life has never been better for Americans – in fact, it’s never been better economically for the majority for the world, thanks to the increased influence of capitalism and the lessening of the bureaucratic stranglehold that government so often is.