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Oprah 2020?

Julie Robertson, Editor-in-chief

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Photo from Luke Vargas (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

 On Sunday Jan. 7, Oprah Winfrey delivered a speech after accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award that silenced the audience assembled in the Golden Globe ballroom, then brought them to their feet clapping and crying out appreciation of Oprah’s powerful words addressing how time was up for women being discriminated against in the world and work place.

I watched her deliver her speech, and felt goosebumps go over my body as she talked about how the time to end gender discrimination was now. She shared her personal experiences as a woman of color in the world of male leaders who rule everything. As she ended her speech, I went to Twitter to see what people were saying about this speech that had a very presidential tone to it. People were tweeting about how they would vote for her and how “Oprah 2020” had a great ring to it.

As a woman about to graduate from high school, I have been thinking a lot about how I may vote in the next presidential election, if I agree with any of the candidates that would be on the ballet. I come from a very liberal family that sometimes isolates themselves from seeing the other side of politics that we may not agree with. One of my goals for 2017 was to try to be able to see both sides, and I really tried hard to do that. But as I watched this strong, powerful, successful woman deliver a very liberal speech, I couldn’t help myself but think, “Screw that mentality. This is who we really need to be running the show!” I wasn’t alone in thinking like that. The Hill reported on Jan. 9 that “Oprah 2020” gear has been creating quite the frenzy with people hoping that the queen of talk shows may run for office in the next election.

But after doing research into what a campaign may look like for Oprah and what her potential opponents may try to dig up to make her look bad, I realize that unfortunately, there is a lot that would undoubtedly resurface. When Oprah opened her school for girls in South Africa, there were allegations of sexual assault between the administration and the students. However, I feel that this should not be seen as Oprah’s fault directly. She called the school a “gift” to the girls and wanted only positive outcomes of the school. Bad things happen at good places, but as we have seen in the past few months, any notable person who has connections to these types of allegations gets dragged in the mud. And if we’re being honest, Trump may try to seek re-election in 2020, and he will for sure try to cover up his own sexual assault allegations and throw dirt onto other people.

Another problem that may arise with an Oprah campaign is something that we saw all the time with the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. Because Clinton was an older white woman who had been in politics for a long time, she was often perceived as “bossy”, “unrelatable”, and “unattractive.” I believe this mentality of how the voters and male opponents perceive any woman candidate is absolutely unacceptable and outdated. Women often face this problem everyday when speaking up about issues. When they sound intelligent about an issue, they are dismissed or ridiculed as bossy or a know-it-all.

An edge that Oprah may have over other female opponents in the 2020 election is that she has a sort of “rags to riches” background. In her speech on Sunday, she talked about how when she remembered when she was a little girl, seeing the first African American man receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award as her mother came home from a long day of cleaning houses. She comes from a single-parent household in Kosciusko, Miss. Her background should be an asset should she run for political office. The age of rich old white men having all the power in politics is over. It is time for a woman who has seen and experienced the world in the same ways that a majority of American voters have seen to be in charge. It is time for someone like Oprah Winfrey to be in charge.

Not only does Oprah have the background of someone to whom the American people can relate, but she has received extremely highly renowned humanitarian awards that could again give her more edge when it comes to her credibility to have a high political position. These awards including the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen in 1989 and the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom, just to name two of the more than 25 she has been awarded throughout her distinguished career and public life.

Another edge that Oprah may have as a presidential candidate is her extensive list of philanthropic work. In 2004 Winfrey became the first black person to rank among the 50 most generous Americans. By 2012 she had given away more than $400 million to educational causes. One of her charities, “Oprah’s Angel Network,” supports worthwhile projects by providing grants to non-profit organizations around the world.

Will Oprah run for president in 2020? Would she have the firepower to get legislation passed that benefit the poor and protect the environment for generations to come? I love what she represents as a woman having to work her way up the ranks and becoming one of the most successful people in the world. She wants to end sexism in the workplace with her involvement in the “Times Up” movement, and as someone who will be entering the workforce soon after the next presidential vote, I can confidently say that Oprah Winfrey would have my vote.

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