Oprah’s presidential push shadows female politicians


At the 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey stunned viewers with a passionate speech addressing the “Me Too” movement, announcing that a “new day is on the horizon.” Winfrey’s speech, paired with her larger-than-life charisma and wallet, led to excited whispers. Does that new day on the horizon include an Oprah presidency?

Please, I hope not. I’m sick of handing celebrities the kingdom keys.

While I can only laud Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech and  respect her for being undeniably one of America’s most powerful women, the social media frenzy over Oprah 2020 is shortsighted and indicative of our willingness to throw our support behind someone who has not truly earned it, as long as they have some celebrity clout and unrelated experience— like President Trump, for instance.

Winfrey is not proven in the political sphere. Ideally, the role of a politician is that of a public servant, a person who listens to the needs of their constituents. While she’s certainly a prolific philanthropist (cited by Biography.com as the greatest black philanthropist in American history, in fact), being a representative is significantly more hands-on. If Winfrey wishes to become a politician, a notion she’s been notably resistant to in the past, why not start at the state level instead of leaping straight into the oval office?

While I understand the wariness and distrust toward traditional politicians, having political experience is vitally important on the world stage. Leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin have years of legislative and administrative experience. If I’m not comfortable having Trump engage with these people (and believe me, I’m not), why would I be okay with Winfrey, who has no experience in global politics, representing our interests? Our readiness to support people such as Winfrey illustrates how easily we are swayed by charisma and famous media figures, a negative image of Americans I no longer wish to propagate.

But the meaning behind Winfrey’s speech was not lost on me, and those touched by her words should recognize the spirit it was meant in. We need to pave the way for a new age for women. The United States ranks a pathetic 99th in the world when it comes to women in national parliament, with only 19 percent of our congress being women. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Morocco, which were cited as being among the top 10 worst countries for gender equality by the World Economic Forum, have a higher percentage of women in their governments than America.

Before we hoist Winfrey up to presidential status, let’s support the women who have been toiling in our government for years. Although there are not as many as there should be, America still has some eligible female politicians for a potential 2020 presidential run. Among the frontrunners are Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.

When America votes for its next president in 2020, instead of asking the question, “Which celebrity candidate do I like more?” let’s hope to hear, “Why would I ever vote for Donald Trump over a qualified woman?”