The news of Oprah’s run for president of the U.S. came in the wake of the powerful and widely praised speech she gave while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes. The speech, applauded by critics as being a universal call to action and deeply personal at the same time, managed to bring the crowd at the Beverly Hilton to its feet.
Oprah’s stirring speech also managed to cause an unprecedented media frenzy. “Next president of the U.S.,” “President Winfrey,” and “Oprah 2020” soon became the talk of both social media and the entertainment world. Even, Stedman Graham, Winfrey’s partner of more than thirty years, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that her run for the next president of the U.S. “is up to the people.” “She would absolutely do it,” he said.
With her fans having the support of many left-leaning celebrities, the hopeful message Winfrey delivered, “a new day is on the horizon,” sounded more like a campaign rallying cry for the next president of the U.S. than an award acceptance speech. Whether it’s what Winfrey wanted or not, the talks of Oprah’s run for the next president of the U.S. have engulfed the media and opened numerous discussions on what the next presidential elections might hold for Americans.
Could she become the next president of the U.S.?
With people on both sides of the political spectrum discussing the pros and cons of another billionaire TV star running for office, it’s important to address the actual qualifications required to become the next president of the U.S.
According to the U.S. Constitution, a viable candidate for president must be a U.S.-born citizen over 35 years old that has lived in the U.S. for the past 14 years. Born in 1954 in Kosciusko, a small town in rural Mississippi, and living in the U.S. for her entire life, she ticks the only three legally required boxes needed in order to qualify to be the next president of the U.S.
A few days after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes award ceremony, in the midst of the media speculating whether or not she will run for the next president of the U.S., a preliminary poll showed that the people would support it. According to Washington Post, a Quinnipiac poll showed that Winfrey would get 52 percent of the vote to President Trump’s 39 percent if she ran against him in 2020.
The poll also showed that Winfrey did particularly well with some of the groups President Trump and his administration have struggled with the most, including women, blacks, and Latinos.
At 63, Winfrey is also younger than some of the top Democrats who might run for the next president of the U.S. In the landscape where identity politics runs the game, Winfrey also outranks most of the previous Democratic candidates. “The name of the game in elections is name recognition, and you get that from celebrity,” Martin Kaplan, a USC professor who specializes in the impact of media and entertainment on society, told the Los Angeles Times.
Despite Oprah not addressing the possibility of running for the next president of the U.S., many have already started calculating her odds against some of the other potential Democratic nominees. “Sounder on economics than Bernie Sanders, understands Middle America better than Elizabeth Warren, less touchy-feely than Joe Biden, more pleasant than Andrew Cuomo, more charismatic than John Hickenlooper,”William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, wrote on Twitter.
Will she run for the next president of the U.S.?
In an interview Oprah gave to InStyle magazine, a few weeks before her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, she said she was not interested in becoming the next president of the U.S.
“I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it,” she said. “I met with someone the other day who said that they would help me with a campaign. That’s not for me.”
Winfrey’s statement remained pretty consistent with the comments she made in the past when asked about running for public office or becoming the next president of the U.S. During a Hollywood Reporter podcast aired in June, Oprah said “I will never run for public office. That’s a pretty definitive thing.”
Despite the overwhelming media and celebrity support Oprah has received in the past month, the shifting tide in U.S. politics might not give her the upper hand in the bid to become the next president of the U.S. The historical pattern of voters choosing presidents who contrast their predecessors and correct their perceived “flaws” might be broken this time around.
“I think it is far more likely that the American public will go to the opposite of the current occupant of the White House,” said Katie Merrill, a Democratic strategist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Another celebrity outsider has very little chance of replacing the current president, and a traditional elected official seasoned in public policymaking might be the choice of many both in the Republican and the Democratic party.
Another thing that will be the most likely to deter Winfrey from running for the next president of the U.S. will be the degrading of her brand. Burnished worldwide over the course of three and a half decades in the entertainment industry, Oprah herself has become a very lucrative brand.
“If you look at what happened to Trump’s brand, it’s been diminished,” said Rick Tyler, former spokesman for Ted Cruz and Newt Gingrich, told the Washington Post. “His hotels, his golf courses are the highest quality, and his name used to be associated with that kind of quality, but I don’t think most Americans think of him that way anymore. I don’t know if she wants to diminish her brand that way.
Ultimately, the majority of people in the Quinnipiac poll believe that it would be best if Winfrey stayed out of Washington, despite them wanting her to become the next president of the U.S. more than Donald Trump. Nearly 66% percent of the survey respondents said that electing another celebrity as president is a bad idea.