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Oprah’s Flirtation with Presidential Run a Telling Commentary on Our Political Culture

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

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Breaking news: Oprah Winfrey is not running for president in 2020.  “It’s not something that interests me,” Winfrey recently told InStyle Magazine. “I don’t have the DNA for it.”

The real news here is what it says about our current political culture that much of America was giddy with delight for a few days over the possibility of Winfrey seeking the presidency after her powerful acceptance speech of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes Awards on Jan. 27.

The days where the withered erudite seize power of the executive, gleaning eons of political experience, are long gone. The political machinations that ruled American society have grown too commonplace, and the common man wants a unique leader. Now, as the 2016 presidential election proved, not only is it possible for a celebrity completely devoid of political skills to become president, it seems as if it could become a more frequent occurrence.

Donald Trump taking office created a paradigm shift, changing the tradition of a dull politician being the only presidential candidate. Then, Winfrey’s powerful speech at the Golden Globes Awards raised the possibility of her running for president in 2020. Now, it seems anyone with celebrity status and a voice can reach the Oval Office, but is that a good thing?

There are many problems with political neophytes, such as Trump or Oprah, becoming the most powerful person in the world. For instance, they lack the knowledge and techniques to govern that one only acquires through the experience of raising through the political ranks of lower elected offices.

Dealing with foreign leaders is very different then dealing with socialites and celebrities. Could a tabloid talk show be as equally qualified for the presidency than say a governor with years of political and executive experience? The president’s seat is not a societal position; it is the shield that protects the free world from the horrors of terrorism, and it is the face of the free world. The holder of the seat also holds the lives of every citizen in the world, having the right to bomb whole civilizations out of existence.

There are numerous reasons why white collar workers would choose to have a celebrity in office. Ever since the beginning of the two party system, personality has been a prominent staple of campaigns. Nobody has more personality and voice than the actors and fat cats of Hollywood. Many of whom, have risen from humble beginnings, being more likable than a politician handed everything their whole life. Just as Andrew Jackson won the presidency seat because he was seen as the common man, many celebrities have been in debt and poverty. They will likely be more likable to the public eye depending on their beginnings and upbringing.

Was Winfrey’s act of considering a presidential campaign disrespectful to the countless politicians wasting time and money on a fruitless dream? There are numerous politicians who are training their ideals and skills with hopes of becoming the leader of the free world.  All the while Winfrey strolls into the ballet and sweeps American off her feet. While some may consider this a bastardization of the political process, others may see this as much needed change.

However, there is a danger when a candidate’s main appeal is based on celebrity rather than possessing proven political, statesman-like leadership skills. The danger lies in the fact that for too many Americans, that celebrity status trumps the latter.

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Oprah’s Flirtation with Presidential Run a Telling Commentary on Our Political Culture