After Oprah’s acceptance speech for the Cecile B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes last night, cheers of “Oprah 2020” are being heard around the country. I watched and enjoyed the speech — and genuinely love Oprah as much as the next gal but putting forth another celebrity-in-chief (albeit a more likable one) is not the answer to your problems, America.
The buzz has been exacerbated by the fact that Oprah’s partner, Stedman Graham, said “It’s up to the people…she would absolutely do it.”
That doesn’t mean anything certain, of course, but the chatter is now revved, just as it is to a lesser extent for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, another favorite pick.
But part of what makes Oprah and The Rock so lovable is that they aren’t partisan political figures. They’re cultural icons that represent positivity, entertainment and escape from the mud-slinging. The moment they are slapped with a Party label and forced to speak in platitudes about policy, their likableness will disintegrate for a large portion of people.
It’s not that I don’t think they have integrity. Indeed, both seem like they do. But, it’s one more example of Americans convinced that one particular person is going to be the “savior” we’re all waiting for. Both Oprah and The Rock would do well on the Democrat ticket — and it would be easy to see either of them getting the nomination. But their celebrity personas would overshadow the importance of having grounded political experience, policy expertise and the hard-earned wisdom necessary to take on such a monumental role. (Yes, I understand the irony of that statement in light of who is currently in the White House.)
Oprah is phenomenal at what she does — a modern day philosopher whose genuine curiosity with other people’s lives is a benefit to all who have seen and heard her for so many years. I listen to “Super Soul Conversations” every week and always loved the Oprah Show. The Rock is a magnetic personality, full of positivity and wise to stay out of the negative political fray. These traits don’t necessarily translate to political leadership and no matter how much you loved these two, nominating them for President won’s solve the toughest policy battles we face or bring together the hard liners on either side of an issue.
Everyone wants a magic solution. While it’s fun to hold a sign that says “Johnson/Hanks 2020,” it’s a fantasy world and these beloved celebrities soon melt into partisan dividers committed to their own personal agendas. It’s a little terrifying what kind of power Oprah’s opinion has already on products and politics. Let’s not make her the Queen and give people an excuse to stop thinking for themselves at an even higher level.
We need people to actually think deeply about the real consequences of policy and politics, not just take a page from “Oprah’s Favorite Policies” and assume they’ll be good.