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What #Oprah2020 Says About the State of U.S. Politics

What #Oprah2020 Says About the State of U.S. Politics

Sonali Kolhatkar
Have we really given up on the idea of a political candidate who is both politically experienced and can articulate a progressive vision for the nation?
Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

i wish i could credit the ‘moniker’ who said it, but i thought this a great comment:

“we need separation of celebrity and state!”


When I talk about an insurgency that can take on and defeat the D-party apparatus, I’m told to just hold my nose and vote LOTE–because the Dems know what they’re doing.

But then they float the candidacies of Oprah, Zuckerberg, and Biden–and that’s supposed to convince me?

I’ll take my chances outside the D-party, thank you very much. They’ve proven they’re hopeless.


“The blame lies with us, with our political leaders, with our media and with the pop-culture-obsessed society we’ve created.”

Sonali I appreciate you and anyone else that will try to squelch this crap before it gets started, but I have to object to what you say along the way. I’ll correct what you said above to what I believe is correct:

The blame lies… …with our media and with the pop-culture-obsessed society THEY’VE created.

It seemed to me the media jumped all over this and floated this crap before there was ANY groundswell talk of drafting Oprah for such an effort. It is media manufactured nothingness. Just like the media sustained adulation of the defunct British monarchy. Why should I, or any other American, give a flying f@#k about the moribund English nobility?

As stupid as the D Party leadership has proven to be, even they, I suspect, are not stupid enough to try this one. If Bernie Sanders were popular with Americans say like orgasms, or over-indulging in food or drink, or like sensationalized sports, then Bernie would be President right now. But the uncomfortable truth is Bernie is popular because of things that are opposed to the wishes of our masters, and so will never be allowed to be President.

I am all of a sudden remembering that the Lewis & Clark Expedition was a military operation conceived by none other than my erstwhile hero Thomas Jefferson.

The Declaration at its best represents our aspirations, even Lincoln was impressed mightily.

But in fact, countries and their governments are now and always have been in the business of consolidating, organizing and projecting power.

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Have we really given up on the idea of a political candidate who is both politically experienced and can articulate a progressive vision for the nation?

bySonali Kolhatkar

lately i’ve read many opinion pieces that question trump’s qualifications to hold office. okay, just who IS qualified? what qualifications do we look for in a president? “politically experienced”? we live in the presence of a corrupted to the max and secretive federal government. so to me at least, “politically experienced” translates as “part of the problem” or “ineffective in bringing about needed change”!

so, really. what are the qualifications we should look for in a candidate? the ability to make high sounding speeches “full of sound and fury: signifying nothing,” doesn’t do it for me. our problem is that an honest candidate with character willing to openly confront the robber-baron warrior empire will be ignored or ridiculed by the corporately sponsored media.

That’s part of the problem. Our political process selects for mediocrity, mendacity and narcissism. People who are not willing to compromise their principles, people who can’t lie with a straight face, people who can’t be bought, aren’t hard to find; but they are, by and large, unwilling to submit themselves—and their families—to the process.


Maybe for the People’s Choice awards, they should add the category of “next president”.

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Mudslides in Montecito - A song for Oprah and Ellen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1JLbDJss3U&feature=youtu.be

From my perspective, Oprah is just the latest oligarch, quisling. The US government, as long as it is controlled by the economic elite that is backed by a military dictatorship, will never be changed by voting.

I have to say, without knowing Oprah’s political leanings, can’t get too excited. Sure, she’d be better than trump, but the question is, would she be VASTLY better than Obama? If not, then who cares that she can win. After all, she supported Hillary’s candidacy - NOT inspiring or encouraging in the least.

If she came up in 2020 because there were no good candidates within the duoply - like 2016, and came in as either independent or representing the green party, THEN I’d be all about Oprah. But if she just wants to slide right in with the corrupt Dems and do their dirty work - with some social and racial shine/polish (essentially another Obama) - then I’d just be voting green again - unless there was some other awesome option.

So her celebrity is only of interest to me if she’s truly progressive, and not an incrementalist. Her celebrity/popularity is a WONDERFUL asset if she’s wonderful on all the key progressive values; single payer, stopping the insane wars/military build-up, fair wages, shutting down prison complex, racial equality across the board, environmental sanity/responsibility, free school, etc. If she was all about those values and committing to garnering all the support to push the congressional bums to do the right thing - then I’d be right there with her. Otherwise, her celebrity would be an issue b/c she’d outshine other candidates that have might have more merit. So unless she’s really on fire for sane/humane and self sustaining policies/commitment, I’m looking elsewhere.


Who is running the country? MAGA - Morons Are Governing America

I can’t quite agree with this view. By “politically experienced”, I would mean (and prefer) candidate who both UNDERSTANDS the political system - it’s dynamics, how it “works” (is gamed by those with the $$), rules, (if you don’t understand how the rules are skewed to maintain a status quo then you can’t change the rules of that game); and what obstacles to progress must be removed.

I say this as one who has recruited, mentored, and gotten candidates elected, running campaigns, etc. What I learned over the course of time was that having merely a good heart or intentions, without the experience, was a formula for failure. Oh, I/we could get them elected, but once in office, their lack of prior experience or of any depth of understanding of the system proved disastrous, as they would often be overwhelmed, confused, and easily led by the nose by those with nefarious agendae that ultimately conflicted with the candidates stated values and vision; and sometimes even turned permanently to the “dark side” where they’d no longer even respond to public- interested constituents.

My criteria then:

  1. Experience (as per above),
  2. Strongly shared values and principles that ensue therefrom,
  3. “Smarts” - the ability to see things below the surface appearances and rhetoric;
  4. A genuine, previously demonstrated bent for service in the public interest (and corresponding lack of interest in fame and fortune (or celebrity);
  5. “Spine” - the courage of one’s convictions and the ability to withstand the pressures to cave in to the political entrepreneurs.

That’s a good starting set.

Bravo, Sonali! Thanks for this. And thanks to Common Dreams for picking it up.

Obviously, any hopes that the D’s would have learned from the debacle of 2016 were soon to be dashed. The same old shallow identity liberalism once again raises its vision-less head and is championed by those who probably consider themselves “The Resistance”.

Celebrity / identity politics might work for the R’s, and it might even be enough for those who happen to be both avidly partisan Democrat and also focused primarily on identify politics. But it won’t work for those outside that subset of people. I don’t think it’ll ever work again.

And I’m glad of that. What’s needed in a Presidential candidate are the right values and principles, experience, savvy, spine and grit. Bernie, a progressive populist candidate, would have won in 2016…his support was broad - reaching Independents and Republicans as well as Democrats. Additionally, he had the experience to know the corruption in the system without succumbing to it. He, or such a candidate could win in 2020.

For me, an Oprah is a non-starter.

Yes, the kind of “Hope” that Obama had in mind while campaigning. Things like, hoping that he could gain favor from Democratic voters from promising a public option for healthcare, while hoping to gain favor from Big Insurers and Big Pharma by promising them that all of that talk was just to bamboozle the public.

You know, that kind of cynical Corporate Democrat “pragmatism”.

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US democracy is in tatters. Even if a Bernie Sanders could win the presidency, would he be able to accomplish much given a political establishment owned and operated by the wealthy?

The issue is that there is no longer a counterbalance to the domination of our political system by the plutocrats. Unions and the labor movement served this role from the 1930s to the 1970s. But today there are no comparable mass organizations, and we need them and a mobilized populace to go with them.

Both the presidency of Trump and #Oprah2020 are symptomatic of a culture dominated by celebrities and empty entertainment. To have a healthy democracy, people need to discuss politics and pay attention to what’s going on. Having someone as jarringly bad a President as Trump is could be a blessing if it wakes enough people up.

I understand that Kurt Andersen’s recent book, Fantasyland sheds considerable light on the subject.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to explore the concept of zeitgeist and its significance in the relation to the American electorate.

One of the results of long years of purging progressives from high office is that the Democrats have no professionals within the party popular enough to run.

Running Winfrey takes a page from the same Republican playbook that produced Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ronald Reagan, but that’s natural enough: if the party wishes to ignore the desires of its base, it has to make a show and hire a showperson.

I doubt Oprah’s draw would mostly just be that she’s not Donald, but of course it’s apt to be a personal rather than issues-based campaign. And the issues that will forefront would again be gender and race to the exclusion of matters economic class, corporate control, first and fourth amendment rights, and so forth.

Were Winfrey elected, other people would mostly run the country. This would presumably be more or less the team that was working with Obama, the Clintons, the Bushes, Ronald Reagan, et al. It’s not terribly relevant in terms of any sort of progressive agenda.

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Do we believe Oprah would rein in Wall Street and enact a Medicare For All single payer health care system?

Not hardly.

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