Hey Oprah Fans, it Wasn’t Celebrity That Elected Donald Trump
Not since a young senator named Barack Obama delivered a soaring speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention have we heard such a cry of hope from legions of lost, fearful liberals. When Oprah Winfrey finished giving her Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Twitter and Hollywood lit up with post after post proclaiming her the next President of the United States. Even NBC got in on the action, in a tweet they were harshly criticized for the next day. In a sea of uninspiring Kamala Harrises, Kirsten Gillibrands, and Joe Bidens, have the Democrats finally found someone with enough star power to take on Donald J. Trump in 2020?
We begin with a concession: If Oprah gets the endorsement of Obama and other leaders within the Democratic Party, we have little doubt that the nomination is hers for the taking. Barring some unforeseen revelation about her seedy business practices or a (long overdue) focus on her history of endorsing absolute quackery on her popular television show, Oprah has the combination of star power, minority-status bona fides, and charisma to easily blow through the list of “Who the hell is that?” names currently jockeying for position. And the left is bound to fall for the seemingly-impenetrable logic of pitting her against Trump. After all, who better to challenge the president than a fellow celebrity?
But that overlooks the true nature of Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the Republican field. Yes, his star wattage gave him an early advantage in an overly-crowded field of contenders, but it was equal parts help and hindrance. It’s easy to forget now, at a time when Donald Trump is one of the most famous people in the world, that he was not an A-lister at the time he descended that golden elevator for the first time. Well known? Yes. Widespread name recognition? Absolutely. But he was no Tom Cruise. His star power rose dramatically as his campaign began, and his ascension to the nomination had much more to do with his willingness to say absolutely anything he wanted than his success on the Celebrity Apprentice. THAT’S what got him $2 billion in free media coverage. Is Oprah planning to generate controversy after controversy to accomplish the same? We kinda doubt it.
While the controversy and the coverage helped Trump suck all the air out of the room and leave the rest of the Republican candidates gasping for camera time, that wouldn’t have been enough to land him the nomination (or the presidency) either. Not by itself. No, Trump came to politics with a unique vision for where we needed to go next as a country, a revolutionary plan to re-invent American borders, enforce the law, and put the needs of the citizens – including the largely-forgotten working man – ahead of the needs of Europe and the rest of the world. We haven’t seen any indication that Oprah has any vision for this country’s future, much less one that will inspire millions and millions to vote for her.
To be sure, with the right gameplan, a celebrity with Oprah’s fame and gravitas could present Trump with a formidable challenge (especially since Trump himself is on record flattering her numerous times over the year, making it somewhat difficult to attack her in the same way he attacked Crooked Hillary), but it’s going to take a lot more than vague “popularity” to overcome the MAGA movement.