Editorial: “You can be president! And you can be president! Everyone can be president!” We disagree.

When Oprah Winfrey left the Golden Globes stage after accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award, many viewers were left wondering if Winfrey had just subtly launched a presidential campaign for the 2020 election. Language such as, “a new day is on the horizon,” is reminiscent of a presidential candidate making promises on the campaign stump in order to garner enthusiasm and gain the trust of his or her potential constituents. While Oprah has since denied these suppositions and affirmed that she is not interested in running for president, the pervasiveness with which the idea circulated the media launched an interesting conversation across the country. Can anyone be president?

The recent election of a businessman and TV celebrity with no legitimate political experience has opened the door to this question. Not only has President Donald Trump influenced other inexperienced public figures to consider running (see: Kanye West, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), he has also lowered the standard for being an acceptable candidate. In the eyes of many, almost anybody is a better alternative to Trump. This idea has left the most powerful position in government vulnerable — susceptible to exploitation by any individual who enjoys widespread popularity.

We believe that while personality does of course play a role, in terms of being a model citizen and earning the trust and respect of the country, political experience is paramount. Yes, the traditional credentials may not send us dashing to the polls with renewed political fervor, or drive up ratings for television stations, but they’re important and they’re necessary. Nothing conveys this better than when Trump, upon the completion of his first 100 days in office, admitted he thought the job “would be easier.”  

We also acknowledge that the media, as it does with nearly everything else, plays an enormous role and that it should be more responsible in its coverage. Clearly, Trump dominated airtime during the 2016 presidential campaign because he was so provocative, controversial, and wildly entertaining. But we aren’t electing someone to entertain us, we are electing someone to lead us. The media should take this into account when deciding where to direct its coverage.

With the election of Trump, politics are no longer conventional. But haven’t we had enough madness in the last two years, between the presidential campaign and the current administration? Couldn’t we all use the cordial politics to which we were accustomed before the Trump presidency? Bring it on, we say.

Perhaps Oprah should use her popularity and power to back an experienced politician in the next election, rather than run herself. There are a number of women of color currently serving as congressional leaders, who we believe are more than qualified to represent the United States in a leadership position as significant and arduous as the presidency. We would rather have Oprah serve as president than Donald Trump, but we would also prefer to have a qualified political candidate rather than an entertainment icon.

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