Here’s Why Oprah Should Not Run for President

by Eve Peyser

After she delivered an inspirational Golden Globes speech, the idea of Oprah Winfrey running for president in 2020 immediately began to gain traction. “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” NBC wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “You could close your eyes and imagine that speech being given in Iowa,” pundit king Chris Cillizza said on CNN.

“She launched a rocket tonight. I want her to run for president,” Meryl Streep told the Washington Post. “Call me @oprah. I’ve got some Iowa county chairs who would love to hear from you,” Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign manager tweeted. Even conservatives John Podhoretz and Bill Kristol have voiced support for an Oprah presidency, proof that 2018 isn’t shaping up to be any more sane than 2017 or 2016.

I’m not going to deny the power of Oprah’s speech, which was undoubtedly the highlight of a sometimes awkward Golden Globes. “We all know the press is under siege these days,” said the billionaire media mogul in one particularly rousing bit. “But we also know it’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice, to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies.”

And I’m not going to criticize Winfrey’s politics, which seem fairly progressive. What’s more, she’s done more than most celebrities to actually effect change: In the 90s, for instance, she helped lobby for the National Child Protection Act, which created a database of known abusers and became known as the “Oprah bill.”

But can we let celebrities just be celebrities? Or to put it a little more pointedly, have we learned nothing from Donald Trump?

Weirdly enough, in 1999, Trump himself suggested that if he ran for president, Oprah would be his first choice for running mate. “Americans respect and admire Oprah for her intelligence and caring. She has provided inspiration for millions of women to improve their lives, go back to school, learn to read, and take responsibility for themselves,” Trump wrote in his book.

Trump isn’t wrong about Oprah, but being an “inspiration” doesn’t mean someone should run for president. Trump himself was “inspiring” to many Americans who voted for him despite all his obviously disqualifying traits. We don’t need any more “inspirational” politicians, we need people who have actual experience governing.

Oprah, unlike Trump, is actually a self-made billionaire. She doesn’t traffic in openly racist rhetoric and hasn’t been accused of sexual assault, either. She’d be a step up from Trump for a lot of reasons. But like him, she has no political experience and no obvious platform beyond her (incredible) personal appeal.

Here’s what we know about Oprah’s political views: She’s seemingly pro-Israel. She believes in the American dream in a sort of Obama-esque way. She endorsed Obama for president in 2008 and Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016. She donated $10 million to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Where does she stand on healthcare? Weed legalization? Foreign policy? Housing?

Importantly, even though the media has spent the last 12 hours spinning its collective wheels about an Oprah campaign, the candidate herself is actually not a candidate, at least not yet. As recently as June, Oprah has said, “I will never run for public office,” but since the Golden Globes, she might have had a change of heart. On Monday morning, CNN reported that according to two sources close to Oprah, she is now “actively thinking” about running for president.

If Oprah wants to run for political office, she should go for it—but not the presidency. She should start small, which for her would mean a cabinet post in a Democratic administration or a governorship. We don’t have any idea about how she would fare in that sort of job; maybe she’d be amazing at it, but maybe she’s more suited to her current incredibly powerful job.

If you have enough hubris to want to run for presidency with zero political experience, it’s a good indicator that being president probably isn’t the right gig for you. And if Trump’s presidency has taught us anything, it’s this: Don’t trust a billionaire to do the job of a politician.

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14 Responses to Here’s Why Oprah Should Not Run for President

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I’m quite frankly gobsmacked at the thought of Oprah Winfrey in the WH. While hopefully not a bad as Trump she still has ZERO qualifications for the job. Remember when she was hawking all those bullshit homeopathic products? Please, America. Stop with Oprah.

  2. Bobbie Peel Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I am also considering running for President and like Oprah, I probably won’t run. But who knows, celebrities have large egos and they’re surrounded by people who pander to them. I can only hope she can ask an honest opinion of someone she trusts and trash this silly idea.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      January 9, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      She’s claiming she isn’t going to run, but then again, they all say that.

  3. Neil Bamforth Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Well, on the plus side, I’m not running for President 😉

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      January 9, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      That’s a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day anyway 🙂

  4. jess Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I’ll run since everyone and their mom is putting their name in the hat. Give me all your money for my campaign.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      January 9, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      Jess for President 2020! Nice ring to it, but the bigger question is: can you act?

      • jess Reply

        January 9, 2018 at 6:58 pm

        Mom told me one time to go to my room till I could act properly and after a few minutes I was bored to tears, so I proceeded with the, To Be or Not To Be speech and asked her if she thought I could act now. She was not pleased with me at all and my dad laughed at me but they still grounded me for a month for being a smartass and being a disobedient child. I will cop to to smoking weed also, none of this pussyfooting around that I did not inhale, yeah I inhaled and I loved it.

        • Rachael Reply

          January 9, 2018 at 8:16 pm

          Jess you are one fun lady. I wish I had the courage to smoke marijuana. I’m always afraid the police will come and put me in jail. Lol. Silly I know. Anyway I love your comments. They make me laugh.

          • jess Reply

            January 9, 2018 at 8:51 pm

            Yeah our home was full of laughter all the time, my dad was funny as all get out, I think it was because he was a stoner. Mom tolerated it because she loved us so much but there were lines and I sometimes crossed them with her, just to see how far I could go, not as far as i wanted but far enough. Humor is survival for me, the darker the better. I will be testing the theory soon, can she spark up a fatty in front of law enforcement, when I come back from SoCal after my friend’s wedding.

  5. Glenn R. Geist Reply

    January 10, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Of course she shouldn’t be president, nor should she encourage another emotionally damaged and dishonest dimwit to run because he’s probably right in thinking he can beat her.

    What scares me though, is the desperation of voters, driven by the rather Maoist conviction that those people with expertise are the enemy and should be replaced by people with no qualifications other than class identity.

    And yes, here willingness to fall for quack medicine is evidence of her own lack of concern for facts, logic and scientific process. Just being a good person at heart is not enough, not by a very long shot. And for those who will insist my hesitation has something to do with her being a female of African extraction, I can think of a number of such people who would be vastly more qualified by education and experience, thank you very much.

  6. Bill Formby Reply

    January 10, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    This is indeed a conundrum. Oprah Winfrey is the antithesis of Donald Trump in almost every way. She was born extremely poor in Mississippi and is likely in that culture was sexually molested and raped but was somehow strong enough to fight her way up through the broadcast world to where she is today. I met her briefly in Selma, Alabama during the filming of Selma. She is as open, friendly, and warm in person as she always seems to be on television. Watching her interact with others who were far below her economic level she would instantly become one of them. Extremely smart, well read and well spoken she had a way of capturing people’s attention when she spoke. But, in a one on one conversation you have complete attention and I got the impression that just behind her really pleasant exterior was hiding a strong willed person with the ability to become a bitch in a heart beat. Not that that is a bad thing because I am sure she would have to have some toughness to get to where she is today. One thing I will say for her, if she does not know the answer to a question she has the good sense to ask someone who does.
    All of that being said, I would not want to see her run for president for a couple of reasons. One is the lack of political experience, but also because she has what seems to be a refreshingly honest way of approaching the world. That she would lose the mire of Washington and world politics. I think she would make a great advisor to a good president, but the country would, in the end lose a truly good person who is entirely free to speak openly about how she feels.

  7. Bobbie Peel Reply

    January 10, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    You don’t have to be professional politician to be political. Office politics, the politics of business, and the politics of being very successful. But Washington politics is a dirty cess pit populated by people who enjoy that environment. Oprah is probably a good person at heart and tough too, she should leave elected office alone. Be a voice, and that is all.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      January 11, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      True. She just needs to be a voice, just not America’s voice.

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