Oprah 2020? Liberals want a champion. But defeating Trump is not ...
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President Oprah Winfrey. Itâs surely not the craziest idea. For years weâve welcome her into our hearts and homes, so why not the Oval Office? And in the aftermath of Sunday nightâs Golden Globe ceremony, it seems to be all anyone can talk about â" or at least, all Twitter and cable news can talk about. Mainly, will the mogul run, and moreover, should she?
The answer to this question isnât up to you or me, of co urse, and a source close to Winfrey told NBCâs Kate Snow on Monday night, âItâs not happening. She has no intention of running.â But that hasnât stopped folks young and old, liberal and conservative, from declaring Winfrey as the Democratsâ absolute and only option for 2020. Predictably, this resulted in others tearing her down just as quickly, accusing her of being a neoliberal (among other critiques), an out-of-touch rich person, and even a Harvey Weinstein enabler.
Thereâs no doubt Winfreyâs speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement on Sunday was inspiring, even presidential. She addressed our societyâs mistreatment of women, which âtranscends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace,â and assured âall the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!"Get the Think newsletter.SUBSCRIBEOprah delivers powerful speech praising #MeToo at Golden Globes01:15
Iâll even admit that my gut reaction to the speech was, yes, âOprah for president.â And glancing at my Twitter timeline I quickly saw a lot of (mostly white) women exclaiming similar thoughts. It was a natural reaction from Americans currently starved for inspiration in leadership.
But itâs actually not bold to say that a woman of Winfreyâs status ought to consider a presidential run. It shouldnât take a lifetime achievement award to awaken white women (53% of whom voted for Trump) to the fact that a black woman could and should be president someday. What would be bold is amplifying the issues that impact black women, like fighting against racist voter ID laws and gerrymandering, and encouraging black women already in public service â" like Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams â" to aim for the highest office in the country.
Many a ctivists and other professionals active on Twitter also noted how these fervent (often white) calls for a President Winfrey fit into a classic liberal pattern of championing black women in one breath, then voting against their interests in the next.
April Reign, founder of the successful #OscarsSoWhite campaign, which points out the overwhelming whiteness of Hollywood awardsâ shows, put it like this:
"Stop begging strong Black women to be president: Michelle, Oprah, whatever. It's weird. And Lord knows when Black women try to lead, y'all attempt to silence and erase us. So how would that work, exactly?"
Later, when I read Meryl Streep's comments following the Golden Globes ("I donât think she [Winfrey] had any intention [of declaring]. But now she doesnât have a choice.â) Reignâs point crystallized.
Of course she has a choice. Perhaps Streep was merely setting an intention, but the point is that Winfrey can continue he r work as an advocate for women and girls, as a Weight Watchers spokesperson, as best friend to Gayle King, as partner to Stedman Graham, as whatever she would like. Our desire to be saved from Trumpism is not Winfreyâs burden to shoulder.
Similarly, at the American Institute of Architects' annual conference in August, former First Lady and Winfreyâs close friend Michelle Obama, was asked about her own political aspirations. Would she ever run for president, as so many have wished out loud since Inauguration Day 2017?
"It's all well and good until you start running, and then the knives come out,â Obama said. "Politics is tough, and it's hard on a family. I wouldn't ask my children to do this again because, when you run for higher office, it's not just you, it's your whole family."
And yet, Obamaâs comments didnât stop former Bill Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen from writing in September, âThe only person I can see accomplishing this [beating Trump in 2020] would be none other than the partyâs most popular political figure: Michelle Obama.â
Schoenâs essay, coming as it did mere days after Obamaâs statements, demonstrated a complete lack of regard for what Obama said she wanted. As with Winfrey, it was all about what everyone else needed from her.
The question of whether Winfrey is qualified to be president is a separate â" and long â" conversation. One thing's for sure: In 2018, in the context of President Donald Trump, a candidateâs readiness is subjective. Most of us were raised to believe being president required public service experience, a deep knowledge of policy, and in all likelihood, a law degree.
But the fundamentals of the game have changed. Now it could also mean the ability to inspire, the ability to motivate voters, experience in grassroots work outside politics, and so on. You donât have to agree with the new rules, but if youâre evaluating Winfreyâs appropriateness for the role based on past leaders, you have yet to metabolize the new normal.
On MSNBC on Monday, Tarana Burke told Chris Jansing, "America needs its first black female president,â calling Winfrey âphenomenal.â Tellingly, however, she did not say whether that first black female president should be Oprah Winfrey. Yes, America does need its first black female president. But it will be when she, whoever she may be, is ready. And certainly not because Twitter demands it.
Marisa Kabas is the Editorial Di rector of Hope â" a mobile platform connecting media and activism â" and a freelance writer. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Rolling Stone, and Glamour. She is based in Brooklyn, New York. You can find her on Twitter @marisakabas.Get the Think newsletter.SUBSCRIBEMORE FROM thinkSumber: Google News | Liputan 24 Marisa