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Oprah for President?

For years after the end of her immensely popular daytime preach/talk show, Oprah was asked if she would consider a run for political office.  She had a lot of social media support for the idea.  Yet, she repeatedly and emphatically said “No.”

Then, in June of 2017, Oprah did an in-depth podcast interview with The Hollywood Reporter about her personal and professional life.  Once again, the political question was posed.  And now, a New York Post op-ed column is claiming that “Democrats’ best hope for 2020: Oprah.”

Which leads me to ask the most heart-felt of questions:  Have Americans learned nothing at all?

They already elected (sort of) a television celebrity with business experience but absolutely no political skill in 2016.  Now they should try it again with a woman best known for her battles with weight and for giving away a car to everyone in the audience?

I blame Barack Obama.  Hollywood has always had political connections.  Ronald Reagan was a B-movie actor before becoming a governor and later, president.  Al Franken blazed a trail through Saturday Night Live before joining the Minnesota Senate.  And for years, Jane Fonda was as known for her protests as her films.

However, Obama did the opposite.  As a politician, he used Hollywood hype and became an entertainer to the masses in order to garner votes.  And it worked.  Despite over a decade of experience in the Senate, it was his charisma on television that sealed the deal.

Obama made politics sexy.  So more celebrities followed as politics and Hollywood became intertwined.  Fast forward eight years and there’s an ill-informed, reality-TV fame whore running the White House.

And Democrats should forego a politically experienced candidate for a celebrity of their own?

In her defence, Oprah has learned a lot simply by doing.  She got an Oscar nomination for The Color Purple, despite little acting experience.  She has a diverse media empire despite never having attended business school.  Her greatest strengths have been her willingness to learn, acknowledge her mistakes, change course when necessary, and make the world a better place.  Sounds like a good start for the leader of the free world.

Meanwhile, the Post column focused Oprah’s recent move to join CBS’ 60 Minutes and her interview with 14 voters – including Trump supporters – about their thoughts on Trump.  The columnist was impressed with her ability to listen, ask questions and seek common ground without judgement.

So she’s already got a leg up on the 45th President.  And unlike Trump, Oprah is more focused on quality and making social statements than … well, TV ratings.  (Remember Beloved?)

However, would the political world – domestic or abroad – take her seriously?  She may have clout with the media.  But political influence?

Furthermore, Hollywood’s moneyed elite propping up yet another rich celebrity who thinks she speaks for the common person could, in fact, alienate voters.

I have a lot of respect for Oprah Winfrey.  But perhaps it’s time for Hollywood to get out of Washington and stick to entertainment.