Melina’s Memorandum: The dangers of electing celebrity presidents

It’s hard not to like Oprah, or at a minimum not acknowledge all the amazing things she has overcome in her personal life and the successes she has had in her career. She is a billionaire media mogul that has successfully revolutionized talk shows and has established her very own television network all while making it a point to maintain massive philanthropic efforts.

Her empowering speech at the Golden Globes led many to feel like she would be the ideal “Trump antidote” for those who are disheartened by the current president. Oprah was honored with the Cecil B. de Mille Award and was the first African American woman  to receive it. After she received the award and presidential run rumors were flying she said herself she is “seriously considering running.” It was an incredible speech. She is a beacon for not just women of color, but all women. I was genuinely moved by the speech. She had a fantastic command of the English language and demonstrated her ability to inspire.

It is easy to get caught up in the emotion and purpose behind the speech and combine that with a frustration with the current presidency and think “yes, this is what we need in politics.” It is tempting to look at her combination of charismatic speaking and impressive career with the knowledge that Trump had massive success in an election coming from television and think she could be successful as well. One could even argue she has even been more successful than Trump thus far because of the massive barriers that she has had to overcome. It is also true that Oprah’s philanthropic efforts do make her seem much more presidential.

However, do those factors give one enough political credibility to run for the highest office in American government? Do we want to look past the many other qualified politicians who have devoted their lives to the government?

Being the president of the U.S. takes a massive amount of political know-how to do the job successfully, both on domestic and international issues. We have already seen and are currently witnessing events and mishaps unfold at the hands of a president who had no political experience before he was elected president.

Trump and Oprah are massively different, so it would be hard to say whether she would have just as many issues as Trump has had, but it would be safe to say that the ramifications of the U.S. choosing yet another celebrity as president could be substantial. The political clout of the U.S. on the world stage comes from its consistency and vast ability to navigate many complicated international issues. Many other nations look to the U.S. for this consistency, and we have already demonstrated that it has been hindered. This primarily stems from the amount of political unrest and worsening polarization because of our current presidency.

Knowing this, is it really in the U.S. best interest to further this idea that the country is losing its grip on its political clout? Given what we are experiencing now I don’t think it would be wise to continue in this direction. In 2020, the U.S. needs to show that we care about political credibility more than we care about celebrity status.

I believe that Oprah is one of, if not the most iconic and compelling orator in American history. She has demonstrated that time and time again; however, I think she should look to support the tireless efforts of the women already in politics who participate in the daily fight for female representation in government. It would be easy to say that she is a better option than the alternative, but I think as a country we can do better than that.

There are 34 women of color in the U.S. House of Representatives, four women of color in the United States Senate, 450 women of color in state legislatures, and nine women of color who serve as mayors. Overall, there are six female governors, 21 women in the U.S. Senate, 83 women in the House of Representatives, and 1,865 women in state legislatures. These women have dedicated their career to politics and have faced the glass ceiling in government head-on. I think we would be better off lifting up the women who have the political knowledge to effectively lead one of the greatest countries the world has ever seen, rather than elect someone who has a basis outside of politics.

I think that the country is ready and would benefit from a female president, but it needs to be the right one. A female president who is also a woman of color would be monumental, and it would be a massive step for our country. There are options for female politicians who could get the job done, and I would rather see the country move in that direction before it elects another celebrity with no political background.

So if Oprah runs I would hope that the American public does not discount other potential candidates because they know who Oprah is better than they do someone who is less flashy. There are already hard-working women and women of color in American government, and it would be short-sighted to not look at them as candidates.