I really fought the urge to do a typical MLK Day blog for today. When the hype over last week’s Golden Globes Speech made by Oprah Winfrey put all of the wold in a tizzy, and then CNN made it’s post that Oprah was seriously considering a presidential bid, it got me thinking. By the time you read this, most people will probably have already voiced their own opinions about the recent rumors that Oprah Winfrey is considering a potential bid for a 2020 run for President of the United States. Women in Hollywood and elsewhere are all a buzz about this in the same way many fawn over Beyoncé in concert. Many people in the African American community are already singing the praises of this possibility as an extension of “The Dream.”
However, it is for this very reason that I chose this day to share my own thoughts as to why this may not be the “Dream” that everyone believes it would be. In fact, I am more inclined to believe that it is not the perfect dream sequence but more like Fantasy Island. For those who are too young to remember the show Fantasy Island, it was a show where people traveled to, in the hopes that they would experience their wildest fantasy come true, but in reality, that fantasy was more like a Twilight Zone experience as their dream turned into a nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that Oprah as president is a nightmare scenario. I happen to be a big fan of her as a media mogul and business woman. Her business savvy has made her a force to be reckoned with. Her philanthropy is to be commended and her heart for children in Africa, more specifically African girls, says much about her heart to empower women of the next generation, as she stays connected to her African Heritage. She looks good on paper, talks a universal language that appeals to many, and for some, that’s enough.
Yet, if Trump has revealed anything about his win of the presidency, a good resume is nothing if it doesn’t speak to the change that people really want out of Washington. Which is why I want to share a few reasons why an Oprah presidential run may not be the big win that everyone thinks it would be.
The O Factor: Everyone can point to the magnetism of the “O” Factor as a major reason why she should be a contender. However, it’s this same “Factor” that could be her biggest barrier to getting the win. Hollywood loves the O. Women love the O. However, the O does not appeal to everyone. I’m a fan because her meteoric rise to fame began in my hometown of Baltimore. I got to watch her move from Baltimore to Chicago where the whole world saw her as the ‘every woman” they wished they were. The problem with this, is that many men, don’t buy into the O factor as quickly as women do, and she’ll have to have more that “O” Factor to draw in the male vote.
Business Sense: I could say this is an extension of the “O” Factor because Oprah’s eye for great things has a way of being a potential blessing or a curse for those she is drawn to. Many who were able to be ready for what Oprah’s eye saw, made out great, while those who were not ready, suffered greatly. This can be seen as an instability for many in the business sector who are just now feeling positive about the direction of Trump’s economic policies. Oprah would have to win over the business sector by showing that she understands the global economy in such a way that is good for America and won’t be a regurgitation of the same policies that created the $20+ trillion-dollar deficit of the previous administration.
World Relations: There are millions who see an Oprah presidency as a slam dunk for world relations because it would appear that a woman could approach world leader with grace and sophistication. While this would be wonderful, we can see how two previous democratic administrations have driven businesses and tax dollars out of the country, has positioned the country for a globally weakened dollar. Oprah would have to prove that she’d be able to make tough military decisions that does not make the nation appear weak or a push over to world leaders who are just chomping at the bit to be the new world leader. America has been a stabilizing factor. Can Oprah prove to America that she can be a firm world leader and not just a likable world leader?
Even greater than this is the fact that there are enough people who have resonated with the message of America First. Many believe that America should be good neighbors with the rest of the world, but not at the risk of what it’s built at home.
The Single Life: The potentiality of being a single woman in the White House is another major hurdle that Ms. Winfrey will have to overcome. Not only would she be the first relationally single, she’d be the first single woman of color in the White House. Make no mistake that some people will find a common law relationship in the White House too progressive and not an image that sits well with those who believe the president should be a model of the traditional family. While Europe was able to embrace Margaret Thatcher as a world leader, a major voting bloc in America is still the Evangelical community which still holds fast to biblical family values.
The Faith Factor: While we’re talking about the Evangelical community, let’s tackle the issue of faith. The great debate of whether this is a Christian nation has been getting increasingly heated as there has been increased hostility towards certain faith-based businesses who’ve been persecuted for running their business with faith as a core value. The current administration has affirmed that Christians should not have to lay aside their faith to run a business how they see fit. While Oprah has shown an openness to many faiths, there are many who might see this as problematic for America, even as many European countries have struggled with terrorism by having such an open policy to anything and everything.
Since you’ve read this far into this blog, I’ll give you a bonus reason, which could in part have been the single most important reason why an Oprah presidency isn’t the dream come true that many would hope it would be. I’ll call it:
The G.I.Joe Factor: For those who never watched the original G.I.Joe animated series, this may not make much sense to you so, I suggest you find a copy of the episode titled The Most Dangerous Thing in The World. In that episode Three members of The Joe team are put through the paces for a potential promotion to the rank of Colonel; Shipwreck, Lifeline, and Dial-Tone. To make this short, none of them were deemed qualified. Dial-Tone had desire, but not the ability to lead. Lifeline had the ability but not the desire to lead. Shipwreck had neither the desire nor the ability to lead. I think many people will see Oprah in one of these three categories, and if honest, Oprah may even see herself in one of these categories.
If for no other reason than this, I believe that an expectation that she will run is unlikely. However, should she decide that she will, there will be much to contemplate for many who fancy her as a viable candidate. If you consider the desirability of being president, consider what she’d be giving up and weigh that in light of what she and the nation would gain. If you consider ability, everyone has pointed to the fact that being a business mogul alone as not being enough, yet for Oprah, you have to weigh what she’s done in business as consideration for how she might run a national budget.
In all that I’ve presented today, I’ve strived to avoid any prophetic insight into my reasons why I think Oprah in the White House might not be the dream come true that many are hoping for. I’ll reserve those thought for later, as I believe that there is much more to be revealed between now and the time that a real decision is made by Ms. Winfrey and those in her camp.
QUESTION: I know that many won’t agree with me on this. So, if you believe that an Oprah presidency is a dream come true, how might you envision her as the Commander in Chief?