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A successful president needs experience in government.
After Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech at the Golden Globes, a rallying cry arose on social media for Winfrey to run for president in 2020. However, Shana Kushner Gadarian, an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and the author of Anxious Politics: Democratic Citizenship in a Threatening World, says that a successful president needs experience in government.
“Oprah gave a masterful speech at the Golden Globes where she reflected on the legacy of racial injustice and gender inequality that makes her story of rising from poverty to celebrity extraordinarily powerful. She did what great political speeches often do, which is to reflect how her story is a function of many other people’s stories and how together, we can rise above these legacies of inequality to move forward together. This is what sociologist Marshall Ganz calls ‘The me, the we and the now;’ it’s a rhetorical structure that Barack Obama uses frequently,” says Gadarian.
“If the presidency was a ceremonial position, if it was acting as the head of state, giving speeches and inspiring people (much in the way that Queen Elizabeth does), then Oprah would do an excellent job. However, the American president needs expertise and experience with policymaking to successfully manage foreign and domestic policy, manage a large and complex federal bureaucracy, nominate judges, etc.,” says Gadarian. “Inexperience in government makes for a less successful presidency. Oprah the politician would not be the same figure as Oprah the celebrity – she would need to take positions on economic and social issues that would appeal to some voters and not others. Partisanship is a strong force in American politics and watching Oxygen or buying O Magazine is not going to be enough of a pull to convince (largely white) Republican women to cross party lines to vote for her.”
“There are thousands of women running for office in 2018 who will be the real story of 2020 – these women, with their training, their unique backgrounds, their experience in state legislatures, local school boards, or the United States Senate will be the women who change the country in 2020. Oprah will hopefully be there in political life – cheering them on, endorsing them, and fundraising for them,” says Gadarian.
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