At this year’s Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey gave a resounding speech to a room of Hollywood stars in black. In her speech, Oprah described watching Sidney Portier’s 1964 Oscar for Best Actor and his later 1982 Cecil B. DeMille Award. As she accepted the same award, Oprah recalled the struggles of her mother and others, whose names will not be remembered despite their extreme sacrifices, before finally urging an end to the sexist culture of sexual assault and harassment. She ended the speech with a final call for a new era for women within American society. “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
The speech itself is magnificent and inspiring. Aside from her incredible stage presence and poise, Oprah’s delivery from beginning to end was matched by equally compelling prose. Yet, the response to Oprah’s speech has resulted in calls for a 2020 presidential run. While it might be the perfect movie ending to her life, it is far from realistic and represents an inherently problematic turn in American politics. Despite the fact that Trump has yet to launch a nuclear war head, he is still enormously unqualified to be president. As politically inexperienced reality star billionaires, Trump and Oprah have the same resume. While Oprah’s speaking skills are significantly better than Donald Trump’s (and I, for one, would love if Trump could speak even half as eloquently), a good speech does not a presidential candidate make.
The calls for a President Winfrey point out two main issues with our current political situation: a normalization of unqualified and incapable presidential candidates and a lack of desire or hope for those opposed to Trump and other Republicans to mobilize for the upcoming midterm elections. In order to survive the duration of Trump’s presidency as unscathed as possible, the American populous must do as much as possible to demand more and more often from their political leaders at all levels. Calling another TV outsider to run for president in three years effectively ignores the enormous chance to challenge Trump’s presidency this year.
Yet, while Oprah herself has openly rejected calls for her to run for president in the past, citing a lack of qualifications, the star does possess a myriad of qualities that I, for one, would love in a president of the United States. Her charisma outshines every currently active politician today, her speaking ability is nothing short of spectacular, and she appeals to Americans on both sides of the political divide. Her speech inspired hope and made millions of Americans want to join her quest. Despite making the perfect TV President, Oprah should not run for office.
Why, you ask? Simply put, in any other year with any other President in office, Oprah might well be good enough. Given the chance, it’s entirely possible that she would succeed in being an excellent president. But, Oprah simply has no political experience. Today, Oprah has no policy record, no experience with Washington or foreign governments, no military experience, and no insider connections. If she were only missing a few of these, that would be perfectly acceptable. But to follow Donald Trump, we need a president like no other. And without any of the needed experience, Oprah will not be.
Yet, the upcoming midterm elections do present Oprah with a way to gain the needed experience to be president. In November, 34 Senators will be up for election, along with all members of the House, 36 governors, and thousands of state and local positions. Oprah could run for one of those in order to gain experience, should she desire a future presidential run. More importantly, though, the midterm elections represent a time for change in political trajectory. With such a change, it will become all the more possible for a presidential challenger to win the 2020 election—but one with the experience needed to back up their charisma.