Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oprah 2020: Could She Win?

It’s a question many Democrats have been giving serious consideration over the next few years, especially since the win of Donald Trump. In an interview released this month, Oprah Winfrey said President Trump’s unlikely election victory had her wondering whether she, too, could run the country. “I thought, ‘Oh gee, I don’t have the experience. I don’t know enough,’” Winfrey said. She later insisted she’d never actually run. But that hasn’t stopped many of her admirers from voicing support for an Oprah candidacy. Kimberly Atkins said in the Boston Herald "Why not?". In the “celebrity-thirsty world of politics,” Winfrey could be President Trump’s “kryptonite.” The talk-show icon has a genuine “rags-to-riches story,” having overcome “poverty, abuse, and bigotry” to become America’s first black female billionaire. She has “100 percent name recognition” and a proven ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Most important of all? “People trust her.”

On the other hand, Trump’s victory may have shown us that political experience may not win elections, but that it very much matters in doing the job. The utter chaos of Trump's first six weeks in office should serve as a reminder that electing a president based on a lack of government experience is like choosing a surgeon based on his or her personality. His disorderly and possibly corrupt administration should be a grim cautionary tale against elevating celebrities to the Oval Office.

Winfrey isn’t the only celebrity being talked up as a potential Democratic savior. Other names that have been floated including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and tech billionaire Mark Cuban. The fact that Democrats are talking about these non-politicians as possible presidential candidates not only shows how shaken we are by Trump’s election victory, but also just how dry the Democratic talent pool is. The party has no “heir apparent,” and no young stars who look capable of inspiring voters the way Barack Obama and Bill Clinton once did. That’s why the party is actually talking about running an outsider like Winfrey or Zuckerberg. As party strategist Jim Manley puts it: “If this is the best we’ve got, we’re in a world of hurt right now.”