Saturday, March 03, 2018

The Divine Miss W

When 6-7 weeks ago there was a groundswell of support for Oprah Winfrey running for President, Vice's Eve Peyser wrote

Trump isn't wrong about Oprah, but being an "inspiration" doesn't mean someone should run for president. Trump himself was "inspiring" to many Americans who voted for him despite all his obviously disqualifying traits. We don't need any more "inspirational" politicians, we need people who have actual experience governing.

The Los Angeles Times editorialized

Maybe not, but there is more to being president than the ability to deliver a stirring speech. Also, as the first year of the Trump presidency demonstrated, there are colossal risks in electing a political neophyte to the most demanding public office in the world. Just because the Republicans were foolish enough to travel down this dangerous road — in the process sacrificing many of their party's best qualities and most valuable principles in a desperate, craven hunt for votes — doesn't mean the Democrats should follow suit.

Admittedly, the best reason to pass on Oprah Winfrey is that she is another largely inexperienced, largely ignorant (in the case of Trump, thoroughly ignorant) celebrity  Additionally, Ms. Winfrey discovered politics in 2008, endorsed the least (among Edwards, Clinton, and himself) economically progressive Democrat for President, then largely fell silent until she allowed in October, 2016 that electing Hillary Clinton would not be a bad thing.

But there is another similarity between Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Trump.

Evangelicals and Pentecostals, once skeptical of Trump, quickly adhered to him once he secured the GOP nomination for President. He has declared  his devotion to them ever since, and they have clung to him more closely than Barack Obama believes working-class whites cling to their guns or religion.  At an event in July 2017 sponsored in Washington, D.C. by his church, Reverend Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas proclaimed "millions of Americans believe the  election of President Trump represented God giving us another chance- perhaps our last chance to truly make America great again."

Religion News Service in December quoted three Trumpists who believe God put his hand upon the billionaire businessman. One stated "I do believe that he (God) picked him. Because he puts people in office and he takes them out." Another argued "the odds of him becoming president were so overwhelming the only way he could have made it is with divine intervention." A third contended "I believe that maybe this was in God's divine plan. This is potentially God's way of giving us a chance to repent for all the wrong we have done in the world."

There are many people who believe God puts presidents in the White House, and they have done us no favors. Yet, The Hill reports

Oprah Winfrey said she’s had billionaires offer to fund her presidential campaign if she runs for the White House, but said she’s waiting for a sign from God. 

“I went into prayer,” she said of calls for her to run for president.

“’God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that yet,” Winfrey told People Magazine in an interview published Wednesday.

We've seen this play before, in which a billionaire with a sense of entitlement believes there is no need to serve in any public office, from school board member to US Senator, before running for President. The last guy made it- and we (except his fellow billionaires) all are suffering.

Fortunately, Oprah Winfrey is no Donald Trump.  But her previous foray into electoral politics- appearances for Barack Obama in 2008, after which she vanished from the fray- do not qualify her.

The Democratic Party can do better.  It especially can do better than a candidate who is ready to pronounce her candidacy as one straight from God. Though stated more subtly, the message would be clear,: support me or oppose God.

"Nobody reads the Bible more than me," Trump told GOP voters in February of 2016 and now many evangelicals believe that his candidacy was heaven-sent. Beware: the Democratic Party may get its own version of Donald Trump coming to a primary near you.

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