oprah.png

Photo Credit: FSFM

On Sunday, January 7, Oprah gave a speech at the Golden Globes after being given the Cecil B. de Mille Award. This speech quickly gained a lot of traction, raising questions as to her potential candidacy for the Presidency in 2020. 

The speech itself was very much a political one, discussing the #metoo movement and explaining that “speaking your truth” is a vital and powerful tool for social change. Oprah used the story of Recy Taylor as an example. Taylor was a black woman who, after being raped in 1944, went to Rosa Parks to seek out justice but unfortunately never got any. She remarked that the oppressive culture run by “brutally powerful men” has come to an end, or as she put it, “their time is up!” Finally, she ended on a positive note by calling out to young girls, telling them that a “new day finally dawns,” and enlisting the efforts of women who tell their stories and men who dare to listen. 

With Donald Trump as President, many Democrats are eagerly looking forward to the 2020 elections. Potential candidates have, however, been scarce. Two popular figures on the left are Senator Bernie Sanders and previous Vice-President Joe Biden, but they’re both aging out since they’re in their 70s. Others, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, are also prominent, but for some Democrats, her politics are far too left-leaning. They may all still be viable candidates, but none as of yet stand out as an obvious choice for the Democrats in 2020.

Given Oprah’s fame in the media, her speech excites many Democrats at the prospect of her running for office. She is a self-made billionaire with firm Democratic convictions. Her speech shows that she was in complete solidarity with the women of the #metoo movement, and she defends the media as being of great importance. Considering the many misogynistic and racist comments Trump has made and his anti-media stance, seen in his famous “fake news” attacks on CNN and the New York Times, Oprah would be more than just a breath of fresh air for many Democrats. Being a black woman herself, and standing behind what she says, she stands in sharp contrast to Trump, making her seem like a perfect fit to run against Trump in 2020.

Despite Oprah being a negation of Trump in many ways, she does resemble him in one very important way: they both lack any political experience. As many clamour on about Oprah’s potential as a potential candidate, they forget what the job of President entails. The expertise required comes in large part from experience. We should desire experienced and intelligent people in office, as they make choices that can affect millions of lives on a daily basis.

The current President and much of his staff have no political experience and limited credentials for their positions. From Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and now Senior Advisor without any credentials or experience, to Scott Pruitt, who is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) despite having connections to the coal industry and having shed doubt on the reality of Climate Change, these filled positions still seem vacant.

The greatest issue with Trump is the clear lack of experience and expertise that he and many of his staff possess. Compared to the previous administration, this deficit in experience and credentials is glaring. In the Obama Administration, Obama himself had been both a senator and a Harvard Law Professor, while Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA, was a fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Oprah may be able to put competent people in office, but that can only take her so far. Her obvious lack of experience in politics is reason enough to think twice before we all jump on the Oprah 2020 train. We should value reliable, experienced and trustworthy politicians, and realize that their expertise means something important.

Despite all the excitement, we should really look at the problem with our valuation of political expertise—it’s being shunned in favour of fame. It no longer seems to matter whether a presidential candidate has a long political track-record or is just starting out in politics. Many are anxious to find a Democratic candidate for 2020, and I can sympathize with the sentiment, but it would be a mistake to jump at any popular figure without noticing their obvious flaws.

Oprah may have given a great speech at the Golden Globes, but a good speech cannot make up for her lack of experience, and it shouldn’t.

comments powered by Disqus