Alongside Oprah, billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz and Tom Steyer are all being touted as potential candidates to replace Donald Trump. Has what Americans want from the presidency fundamentally changed?by Daniel Sugarman / January 11, 2018 / Leave a comment
“Is Oprah running for President?”
It’s the latest question hovering over the political hemisphere, following the speech which launched a thousand opinion pieces.
On Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey, the media-mogul, actress, talk show host and self-made billionaire, delivered a rousing three minute address to a room full of Hollywood’s biggest stars, as well as nineteen million people watching on television.
She drew on her childhood experiences, describing herself as a young girl watching a black man, Sidney Poitier, accept the best actor award at the Oscars in 1964. She talked movingly about the sacrifices made by countless women—including her own mother—to provide for their children. She praised the press, with its “insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth.” She spoke heartbreakingly about the Civil Rights movement, and victims of the most vile racism and sexual abuse. And then she spoke to “all the girls watching here, now,” telling them that “a new day is on the horizon.”
The speech was greeted by a standing ovation—and immediate speculation as to whether, in some subtle way, despite previous denials by Ms Winfrey, a Presidential campaign had been launched.
Since that speech, pieces have been published supporting the notion (“Oprah Would Make an Exceptional President”), as well as pieces pouring cold water on the idea (“Oprah Winfrey for President: Have We All Gone Bonkers?”). These include background pieces (“Oprah Winfrey: The woman who rose from a deprived childhood marred by sexual abuse to hot tip for US president”), and pieces giving a taste of the sort of trouble she might face as a candidate (“Oprah’s Long History with Junk Science”).
However, for all the discussion, there has been relatively little observation of the rather unpleasant orange elephant in the room: the idea that the possibility of an Oprah presidency is only being taken this seriously because of what happened last November, when Donald Trump broke through the gold-plated, diamond-encrusted ceiling which had previously prevented billionaires who had never held political office from becoming president.
This should not be seen as a criticism of Oprah, a person who in many ways could be seen as the anti-Trump—a smart black woman who overcame the twin obstacles of racism and sexism to become…