Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stop the Oprah madness!

Oprah's Golden Globes speech was GREAT. I 100% agree with that. It was timely and timeless and inspirational and well-delivered. I hope many children and young people - especially young black girls but everyone else too - saw it and saw themselves in it and were inspired to go after their dreams and to do good in the world. I hope she continues to speak out and inspire people for a long time. She's very good at it.

But I absolutely do not think we should support her theoretical bid for the presidency, and I've been horrified this week to see so many people I thought generally reasonable and rational get swept up in this nonsense.

For one thing, I agree with everything the always-great Dahlia Lithwick says here about how people calling for Oprah's candidacy are missing Oprah's own point, her call to action for everyone. She, like Obama always did and obviously unlike the current president, is talking about the need for citizen action and the limits of top-down power.
"It is one of the great sins of this celebrity age that we continue to misread this message as a call to turn anyone who tries to deliver it into our savior. When someone tells you 'I alone can fix it,' you should run screaming for the emergency exits. When someone tells you to get off your ass and fix it yourself, you should think first about running for office yourself."
(Or take other concrete action! Obviously running for office isn't for everyone. But I digress.)

But even more important, to me, is the fact that WE HAVE ZERO EVIDENCE THAT OPRAH WOULD BE A GOOD PRESIDENT. Making inspiration speeches is - or SHOULD be - a very small part of the job. She hasn't articulated any policy positions, but even if she came up with some great ones, she doesn't have the experience to enact them or to effectively run an administration. Would she be better at it than Trump? Sure! Most people would be! That CANNOT be our standard, that lowest of bars. Even aside from the evil Trump is deliberately doing, we're seeing the damage an unqualified president does as far as positions left open and things going undone, and especially after this presidency, we will need someone very efficient and experienced to clean things up and right the ship as much as possible. Another political neophyte, however well-intentioned, would likely only compound the problem.

I refuse to accept that one year into Trump's presidency, we have decided to just ping-pong between unqualified celebrity cult figures and hope for one who will magically save us or at least do the least amount of damage. We deserve better than that. The country deserves better than that. We deserve serious politicians of deep policy and procedure knowledge and experience to get in there and do the work. And so that means that WE need to get in there and do the work of getting them elected, rather than putting our faith in a fairy godmother.

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