If there’s one thing Oprah knows for sure, it’s that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have.
Oprah, I’m speaking my truth. You shouldn’t run for president.
This week, Oprah did what Oprah does best. She made a vigorous, rousing speech at the Golden Globes championing the women who have spoken up as part of the global #metoo movement. It set the room on fire. Few people can knock together a set of inspirational words like the talkshow queen and none can match her proud, sonorous boom when she’s passionate. “A new day is on the horizon,” she thundered. It would have surprised no one if the sun itself rose in the east on her command.
What rose instead was a chorus of voices – from Meryl Streep to Lady Gaga – urging the 63-year-old to run for president in 2020.
It’s a lovely sentiment but a terrible idea. Why do we still think that being a TV star qualifies someone to lead the free world? Just because the American people accidentally elected one in 2016, doesn’t mean they should compound the problem.
Donald Trump is not a red wine stain that you neutralise with white wine Oprah Winfrey. The only way to mop up the mess that Trump will leave on American democracy is to take the presidency to a specialist and have it dry cleaned properly.
That specialist drycleaner is an experienced politician. And the drycleaning is a painstaking process that involves the person at the top re-instilling confidence in the office by actually leading. By making capable, qualified decisions around everything from trade to foreign relations to housing to immigration – most of which have been ignored by the current resident of the Oval Office and left to his baffled underlings to administer.
Because that’s what happens when the person at the top doesn’t know how to do anything but talk. The government fumbles around behind the scenes and behind the leader’s back and somehow things chug clumsily along. That’s not a democracy. That’s a rudderless, unelected bureaucracy.
Oprah certainly has the jump on Trump in terms of intellect – there’s strong evidence that she’s read a number of books and I imagine she doesn’t see Fox News as a coolheaded stenographer of world events – but could she negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran? How does she feel about the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate? Thoughts on overhauling the discretional education grants program?
If someone suggested installing a talented school captain as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show when it ended in 2011, Oprah would have offered a warm but warning truth. She would have told that student that she showed real promise, and to work her way to a similar position – start at the bottom in a newsroom, press for an on-air weather job, graduate to feature reporting. Do the hard yards. Exactly the way Oprah did herself.
Head up a grassroots advocacy group, Oprah. Run for mayor. Go all in for governor of your home state. Learn the ropes. Your new day may be on the horizon. But it’s not here yet.