Please Stop Asking Oprah To Run for President

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Oprah Winfrey (Greg Hernandez)

ill people stop asking Oprah Winfrey to run for president? The billionaire TV mogul has recently sparked White House rumors again after she was pictured canvassing for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Winfrey also gave a stirring speech urging black voters to go to the polls. She said refusing to vote was dishonoring their ancestors who were barred from participating in democracy.

“For anybody here who had an ancestor who did not have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family. You are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering, and their dreams when you don’t vote,” said Winfrey during a Marietta campaign rally.

Oprah makes a salient point. Georgia is one of several states where massive incidents of voter disenfranchisement have been discovered. More than 300,000, mainly black voters, have been scrubbed from the polls by a series of underhanded tactics. And the person behind this is Georgia Sec. of State Brian Kemp, Abrams’ opponent. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit over this issue.

However, Oprah’s reentry into politics has ignited rumors of her getting into the presidential race. These rumors first surfaced earlier this year, after she gave a stirring speech at the Golden Globe awards.

But even though Oprah has stated that she does not have the stomach for national politics, people, including her friend Gayle King, are still urging her to run.

“I would not be able to do it. It’s not a clean business. It would kill me,” said Winfrey in a British Vogue interview.

I wish people would stop. I never thought Winfrey would run for office. I’m not particularly enamored with celebrity candidates. Just because someone has done well in television, film or even business, it doesn’t mean that will translate into running the country.

I scorned rumors of action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s presidential run. Sure he looks great on screen, flexing his muscles and battling bad guys, but I never thought he wanted to sit in the Oval Office and actually deal with real-world issues. (Johnson has recently backed off on the idea of running for president.)

The Rock looks good on camera because he has a director, a production crew, and a special effects team behind him. The entertainment industry isn’t real, it’s all smoke and mirrors. But television is powerful. I saw a report where a black Trump voter said he was convinced Trump could fix the country because he saw him “ordering people around” on “The Apprentice!”

But like the Rock, I doubt if Oprah wants to deal with life-and-death issues. Do you think Oprah really wants to call in drone strikes or try to figure out how to stop the slaughter in Yemen and Syria? I used to watch Oprah’s show, it was all about love and peace and “being your best self,” it wasn’t about foreign policy and economics.

I think some celebrities might like the adulation that comes from running for president, but the harsh realities of campaigning, raising money and dealing with the cut-throat political media, is another thing. This is a lesson that Donald Trump has learned.

The fixation with candidates like Oprah, The Rock and even Trump is a sign of this country’s celebrity obsession. When will people learn that just because someone has a talent, it doesn’t make them superhuman? And it also doesn’t mean they’re qualified to run the country either. And yes that goes for you Michael Avenatti.

Trump, who will go down as the worst president in history, should serve as a warning of the dangers of electing a guy who had a successful TV show. Trump’s disastrous presidency is proof candidates should at least have some military or political experience. The Oval Office is no place for on-the-job training.

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Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.

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