I’ll admit I was one of the many who jumped on the Oprah 2020 campaign bandwagon after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes.
It was so good, and she is such a force to be reckoned with.
But a powerful thirst for inspiration, it turns out, can distort reality a bit. And this nasty drought we’re in has us thinking that sanity, and in particular, passionate sanity, makes someone qualified to hold our nation’s highest elected office.
To be fair, Oprah is more than just sane; she’s a powerhouse and an inspiration to, and a benefactor of, people the world over. Her articulate, bold sincerity felt like a full canteen of fresh water found in an arid desert. And I guzzled it.
Rejuvenate and reconstitute us, Oprah!
But I’ve had to defend my stance ever since, and probably because so many feel burned by the experience of our current Entertainer in Chief (even many who voted for him).
Whether we like it or not, we’re living in a time when a huge portion of voters gauge political preparedness by a person’s ability to captivate rather than the ability to govern. And, if that’s the new America, where our only viable candidates are going to be celebrities, I want Oprah over, well, almost anyone (and certainly more than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) .
But this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has me reflecting on the role these non-elected public figures play in politics.
Every year, I like to at least read, if not listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. As a minority, a hopeful, an activist and a human, I find such solace in his words, his vision and his commitment to peaceful advocacy.
If he had given that speech at the Golden Globes, I’d have wanted him to be president too.
But we shouldn’t forget that there’s value in having dynamic people play important roles outside of elected office. And there’s perhaps even more value in maintaining (reclaiming?) the rigorous standards by which we define political viability.
Despite the fact that technology and social media provide a bigger and better lit stage, the Oval Office is not meant to be held by a media personality; it is meant to be held by a seasoned public servant. It isn’t ratings that person should seek, but resolutions. And our votes should demonstrate trust, not popularity.
I’m afraid in our desert devoid of real inspiration, Oprah is just a mirage.
But I’m sure our real oasis is out there, and it’s teeming with pools of experienced and politically savvy elected officials ready to quench our very real need for progress on so many pressing issues.
So, let us trudge on, friends, through the dryness. May our visions of change fuel, not distract, us from our sojourn to find that which will truly revive us.
Marina Gomberg’s lifestyle columns appear on sltrib.com. She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.