In just a few short weeks, it will officially be one full year since the 45th President of the United States has taken office and last Sunday night, the 2020 Presidential Election was effectively kicked off during the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards. Oprah Winfrey, who is not just the richest self-made female billionaire in America, but also the first and richest black multi-billionaire in the world, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the Golden Globes, gave a speech that immediately caught fire across social media. Given her profile, what she talked about and the thirst this nation has had to quickly turn the page away the colossal mistake we’ve made in 2016, the uproar for her to run for President has been nothing short of monumental.
Everyone has pitched in their opinion of whether Oprah Winfrey should or should not run for president. And it’s been a fun idea to think about. Particularly since our current president has made his entire career out of being at the forefront of American television for years. If there’s anyone that could match him in terms of wealth and name identification, it’s Oprah Winfrey. But that is where any and all comparisons between the two cease. Where he has been crass and appalling, she has been warm and comforting. Where he has been abhorrent and deplorable, she has been delightful and encouraging. Where has the president’s been an offensive blight in American media, Oprah Winfrey has made her career and the careers of others being one of most positive influences on the planet. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given away nearly half a billion dollars for educational pursuits and other humanitarian efforts and has gone from rural Mississippi to being the de-facto “Queen of Media” and has been adored by millions.
And this is the problem.
Back in 2007, for the first time in her career, Oprah Winfrey had publicly threw her considerable support and influence in a political campaign behind Barack Obama. But it was also during this time that she too was asked about running for president someday and she realized then, what I’m certain she’s fully considering now that the current president is experiencing at this very moment, that in order for her to run and for her to win, it would come at the expense of so much that has given her the kind of impact she has today.
Oprah is not a politician. Even while endorsing Barack Obama, Oprah had to never actively get into politics. That just doesn’t mean endorsing any particular candidate. That means giving candidates money, lots of it. That means taking a lead and defining yourself and your entire media profile on extremely partisan issues. Issues that have and will define how and what people think about you. She has spent her life uplifting thousands and building bridges literally and figuratively. However, as a candidate she WILL have to burn bridges she never thought she had to burn. And if she were to win and become president, she’ll realize quick how impossible it will to build actual roads and bridges when she has a congress that will oppose anything she wants to do because she also wants to make sure businesses treat women fairly by paying them what they pay men. As a private citizen, she doesn’t need to worry about these things. She could pay women who worked for her what she thought was just and fair. She did not have define to millions of fans and viewers how she feels about abortion and welfare, health care, gun control and such issues that will turn people away from her no matter how she’s made them feel talking to us from couch to couch through a television screen. It is not fun having to be subjected to what people will invariably put you through. It is not easy having to put yourself out there and to try to convince people you can help make their lives better and acutely explain to them how. It’s petty, grueling, ugly and demoralizing, particularly when you know you have every intent to do the best but are handcuffed by a myriad of factors that you have absolutely no control over at all that would have never stopped you before.
Now, I’m not going to tell anyone whether they should or shouldn’t support Oprah Winfrey to be our next president. She’s obviously talented, has the ability to reach millions with ease. But there’s way much more to this than people want to realize. And we see the consequence of those not realizing this right now. While most elections, thematically come down to “change” vs “experience”, we’ve typically voted for politicians that actually are politicians. And there’s a reason for that. It lets us know that they are able to work with a system that by its very nature often complex and chaotic. It’s that electoral resume that assures us that we can trust these individuals to make these critical decisions and do it deliberately and righteously. Oprah doesn’t have that, but yet, she makes it really easy to trust her still. Ultimately, those who are asking her to run for president have to open their eyes. You don’t how where she stands on international hotspots like Syria, North Korea or Russia or if she will respond any differently than the currently president has. You don’t know how she feels about immigration reform, tax reform or entitlement reform. You might think she’s right where you want her to be but then again, she may not be. But beyond how you may feel about her, she also has to consider everything that she will have to sacrifice and surrender to do something that she has absolutely no control over whether it will go well or not. And while we might think it’s a great idea for Oprah Winfrey to run for president, we also have to accept that it’s entirely possible that she may not think she should the our next President of the United States.
But, if she does run… Well, it’s fun to dream.