President Oprah Winfrey?

1024px-Oprah_Winfrey_in_Strøget,_Denmark_on_30_September_2009

Talk show host and TV tycoon Oprah Winfrey gave a powerful speech on sexual harassment at the Golden Globe awards.  Immediately, social media was abuzz with calls for “Oprah for President!”  Now Democrats across the country are reportedly excited at the prospect of Oprah being their candidate.

Here we see again the impact of Donald Trump, who is influencing even his most bitter opponents.

Democrats had been decrying the election of a television celebrity with absolutely no experience in government or as an elected official and totally without any traditional qualifications.  But now they are ready to counter him with an inexperienced, unqualified TV celebrity of their own!

The trend in a different kind of nominee started soon after President Trump was elected.  Celebrities like Kid Rock, a kindred spirit with Trump, flirted with a run for the Michigan Senate.  (Though he later said he was never serious, the rock star attracted significant popular support and at one time polls showed him leading all of Republican candidates in the primary.)   Also actor and former WWF wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has said he considering running for president, though he won’t say for which party.

President Trump’s lack of governmental experience has caused him and his administration problems, but part of his attraction is that “he isn’t a politician.”  The public, sick of the Washington establishment, chose as president someone who was a political outsider.  But someone who, they felt, had a personality and an attitude that could get things done.  His supporters don’t care about whether or not he has mastered the fine points of policy or how he manages his staff or the Russia investigation.  His supporters feel a personal connection to Donald Trump, and he feels a connection with them.

So why shouldn’t the Democrats have this kind of candidate too?  Oprah is wildly popular, a black woman with the allegiance of much of the party’s base, a liberal whose ideology is softened by her pop-psychology and her overwhelming niceness.

What seems to be happening is a shift in what people are looking for in a president (and possibly in other offices).

Not someone who is a master of policy.  Not a good administrator who can best fulfill the demands of being the Chief Executive.  Not a leader who can unite the country.

Rather, we want someone we like; someone we can feel good about; someone  who can embody the nation as we want it to be.

Is there anything wrong with this?  Well, this view of politics comes from Romanticism.  It is the political theory of Rousseau, who taught that politics is a matter of the General Will, as embodied in the Leader.

Is that what we want?

 

Photo of Oprah Winfrey by Bill Ebbesen (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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