By seriously proposing the idea that Oprah Winfrey should run for president in 2020, Democrats have proven the 2006 movie “Idiocracy” was a documentary sent from the future rather than a contemporary satire.
This surge in support for a hypothetical presidential campaign by Winfrey, something that sources close to her say she is actively considering, was in response to her moving speech on racial justice, press freedoms and sexual assault during the Golden Globes awards ceremony on Jan. 7.
The speech was excellent, and her call to hold sexual predators accountable speaks highly to Winfrey’s character and outlook on feminism and social justice. But a good single-subject speech does not a political platform make.
That so many liberals immediately expressed support for the prospect of a former daytime talk show host and near-total political enigma becoming our next president is troubling. To promote Winfrey’s potential run as an antidote to the political trends that elected Donald Trump is to help lay a path toward a future where the presidency becomes the competitive plaything of billionaires – 99 percent of whom are complete psychopaths.
Of the hundreds of takes on Winfrey’s will-she-won’t-she potential run, Eve Peyser’s hilariously titled Vice article, “I Can’t Believe I Have to Explain Why Oprah Shouldn’t Be President,” is by far the most correct in its criticisms of liberals desperate for a magic potion that will dispel the curse of Trumpism. “Can we let celebrities just be celebrities?” asks Peyser.
Why can’t our pop-culture consumption remain in its own domain, far away from the levers of government power?
Some days it seems like Democrats would nominate Harry Potter for president if they could. Not the fictional character, mind you.
They’d run the actual hardcover. It’s running mate would be a “Veep” DVD glued to a mop.
Pop culture will not save us from the generalized political brain damage the Trump presidency has inflicted on us all. Neither will billionaire celebrities turned philanthropists, charming actors or Instagram savants.
Most celebrities appear to us as political blank slates. Take Dwayne Johnson, another celebrity whose flirtation with a presidential run was cheered by an embarrassing number of liberals. He might be fun to follow on social media, but can anyone recall a single policy position he’s ever espoused?
Winfrey is not a complete unknown, though. Judging by her past support of Barack Obama and various social causes, we can assume she would be respectably progressive on social issues.
But what about the nitty-gritty legislative efforts and national policies typically pursued by presidents? Where does Winfrey come down on taxes, and did she personally support the recent GOP tax bill from which she stood to massively benefit? How does a billionaire feel about entitlement programs? What about Middle Eastern policy, where Winfrey’s record is mixed if we go off the subjects of some of her old talk show episodes (the only research materials we have available to us)?
Being fabulously wealthy rots your brain, I’m sure of it. It’s impossible to have every luxury instantly available while being permanently insulated from want and precarity without having your personality irreparably mutated.
Many of Winfrey’s backers will point to her charity work as evidence of altruism.
These activities and donations are of course highly commendable. They do not, however, qualify one to be president. They also don’t constitute serious generosity or sacrifice when one considers that Winfrey still holds a vast hoard of wealth, the net worth of which estimated around $2.8 billion.
If any billionaire had truly retained the empathy center of their brains through the onslaught of sociopathy that unimaginable wealth imposes on the human psyche, they would no longer be billionaires. When judging the character of super-wealthy individuals, it is important for us to recognize that beyond, say, a few million dollars, the only ethical use of their vast wealth is to give it all away to causes that better society and house and feed the destitute. We have normalized the greedy accumulation of capital to the point of allowing the relatively small charitable donations of the billionaire class to act as a fig leaf for their massive fortunes and hedonistic consumption.
Peyser concludes her piece by writing, “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.”
I’m not against celebrities entering politics through their state legislature or some other normal entry point into the field. What we should never accept is the harebrained scheme of handing the presidency over from one “bad” billionaire with no political experience to a “good” one, because there is no such thing.