Op-Ed: No-prah 2020

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Photo credit: Grace Dieveney

A woman holds a sign of Oprah Winfrey above her head, while listening to a speaker at the 2018 women's march in Los Angeles. An estimated 500,000 people attended the march in Downtown LA.

The United States is not ready for another celebrity president, which is why it is so surprising that fans are pressuring Oprah Winfrey to run for the presidency in 2020.

Winfrey is a television personality, billionaire and philanthropist, who has made valuable contributions to the worlds of film and television.  After her memorable speech at the 2018, the hashtag #Oprah 2020 was trending on Twitter because of a joke  told by host Seth Meyers about the possibility of a Winfrey presidency.

During her inspiring Golden Globes speech, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award, Winfrey spoke powerfully about a new day on the horizon” where “never having to say ‘me too’ again” would be the norm; this year’s awards were highly focused on the ‘Me Too’ Movement against sexual harassment. Winfrey’s words caused the crowd to erupt, excited by the idea of reducing sexual assault rates. 

Throughout her life, Winfrey has been an avid contributor to the betterment of society. She donated $10 million to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005, and the Oprah Winfrey Foundation has raised over $40 million for public programs benefiting women and children. But do Americans really want another billionaire with no government experience in the White House? Her skill set seems better suited for local office or endorsing another more experienced presidential candidate.

According to USA Today, only three U.S. presidents have been elected with zero previous government experience; the only one elected with no government or military experience is Donald Trump.

Winfrey’s qualifications for the presidency are all too similar to current president Trump’s.  Having a president with no political experience is like having a physics teacher that has never studied science.

Winfrey has been a TV personality for more than 20 years and has received numerous awards such as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom — but this doesn’t make her an able politician. These awards make Winfrey a well-liked person with lots of power, but not a president. 

While having a black, female president would inspire girls across the nation and make strides against discrimination, it does not have to be Winfrey that breaks the glass ceiling. A Winfrey presidency would lower American standard for leaders holding political office even more, destroying the foundations of government. Having a president with not political experience reverses 242 years of advancement, tarnishing the work done by our Founding Fathers even more.

Winfrey’s stances on major governmental issues are mostly unknown. Electing her could push the country into even more turmoil and divisiveness over her celebrity persona.

There are many better qualified women, who potentially have their sights on the presidency, that I would prefer to see in the White House. In 2020, Kamala Harris will have served in the United States Senate for four years, and she was the Attorney General of California from 2011-2017.  She graduated from University of California, Hastings College of Law and advocates for immigrants, LGBTQ rights and numerous other social issues.

Kirsten Gillibrand is also incredibly qualified and has been a New York senator since 2009. Prior to that, she was in the United States House of Representatives and worked as a lawyer. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and is known for advocating for single-payer healthcare, sexual assault protection measures and affordable college.

Citizens should support these and other local female politicians, who have much more experience in government than Winfrey.  Having one of these knowledgable, empowered women as our president would improve the experiences of citizens and will start the tough conversations about diversity that our nation needs.