~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

You Guys, She *Gave a Speech*

Let's get one thing straight right now: While she would almost certainly do a better job than 45 (which, let's face it, is probably the lowest bar for presidential success of all time), Oprah Winfrey is not terribly well qualified to be the President of the United States. I'm not insulting her; I'm just stating a fact. She's incredibly accomplished and is qualified for a lot of things; I just don't think that being POTUS is one of them.

Giving an impassioned (and awesome) speech at an awards show does not automatically mean she'd be a great candidate. And overseeing a media empire does not automatically mean she'd be a great president, who is tasked with leading the most powerful nation on Earth.

There is a lot more to candidacy and certainly to presidency than speechmaking and business savvy.

I mean, how many times do we have to learn the hard way that business ≠ government?!? Because...business does not equal government! Would some parts of government do well to apply sound business principles? Surely. But they are not the same things. Determining how to maximize value to shareholders is a far cry from, say, deciding whether to send troops into harm's way.

As my friend Jay Cosnett put it,
 Governing requires experience... at governing! Passing bills, forging consensus, navigating overlapping centers of power and influence, maintaining and building coalitions, dealing with other politicians and governments... This idea that government is somehow "not real work" and that someone from the private sector doesn't need experience in it is bullshit.

And Thomas Chatterton Williams in this great New York Times piece:
I am not immune to Oprah’s charms, but President Winfrey is a terrible idea. It also underscores the extent to which Trumpism — the kowtowing to celebrity and ratings, the repudiation of experience and expertise — has infected our civic life. The ideal post-Trump politician will, at the very least, be a deeply serious figure with a strong record of public service behind her. It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act.

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And let's talk for a minute about how all this "Oprah 2020" talk is diverting attention from the content of that awesome speech. It was (mostly) about eliminating the need for #MeToo, to put it succinctly.

Here it is, in case you've been living under a rock for the past 24 hours:

Why aren't we talking about how to make that new day dawn? Why aren't we talking about how to make harassment and assault socially unacceptable? Why aren't we talking about how to make respect for the personhood of all human beings...absolutely basic?

Why are we ignoring these critical topics, fixating on the fact that she spoke well and passionately, and jumping immediately to...'hey, let's make her president!'?


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By the way, since electing Barack Obama didn't end racism, do we somehow think that electing Oprah would end sexism?!?

If an extremely qualified white woman, one of the most qualified people to ever run for the presidency, couldn't get elected to the highest office in this country (and...you're kidding yourself if you think misogyny didn't play a role), how well do you think a Black woman would do—without the requisite cultural change that Oprah's speech so beautifully called for happening first?

We cannot skip the hard, hard work of dismantling systems of racism and patriarchy and expect that electing a charismatic leader will in and of itself fix our problems. Even if that charismatic leader is very well qualified (see again: Obama).

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Would I love to see a Black woman president? Absolutely. I say bring on the #BlackGirlMagic. I mean, the white guys haven't done all that well, for one thing. And Black women have been at the forefront of social change for ages. They know how to get shit done.

But first, we need to do (at least) these two critical things: 1) look for truly well-qualified presidential candidates (of any and all identities) and 2) get to work on fixing that which is broken both within ourselves and within how we relate to each other.

The future of our culture and our republic may well depend on it.

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