I recall years ago at the Democratic National Convention a relatively unknown, charismatic governor from Arkansas addressed the assembly. Even though he was long-winded, when he concluded, a flurry of whispers circulated about him as a presidential candidate.
Not that long after, another relatively unknown, charismatic politician from Illinois spoke to assembled Democrats at the convention and had the same effect.
After the Golden Globe awards Jan. 7, a “buzz” began that’s picking up steam across the political spectrum. “That woman’s got what it takes! What a speaker! She needs to run in 2020!”
I’m talking here of Oprah Winfrey. My own wife, who heard but two minutes of her acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement award, said without hesitation, “From the moment she started, you could tell from her deeper voice she was attempting to project a more authoritative persona. Betcha’ she’s gonna run for president.”
For months I’ve thought the same thing and have been itching to pen a commentary about this not-so-remote possibility. Campaigning is only two years away, and none of the other candidates display the necessary charisma, vigor and influence required to achieve the ultimate prize for the beleaguered Democratic Party.
Who’s out there waiting in the wings? From my perspective, I see Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio, Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, Terry McAuliffe, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, maybe Mark Zuckerberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and possibly Michele Obama.
Then there’s the one CNN labeled, “The world’s most powerful woman.” Is it time for the Oprah Winfrey show?
When she concluded her rousing political (it was thoroughly political!) speech at the awards show saying a “new day is on the horizon” for women, she received a lengthy standing ovation. Assembled celebrities began chanting for her to run.
Graham Steadman, her longtime live-in lover, adoringly said she’d “absolutely” run for president in 2020 but it would be “up to the people.” NBC concurred with a tweet referring to her as “OUR future president.”
Actress and political activist Meryl Streep told the Washington Post that Oprah “doesn’t have a choice” in running for president: “I want her to run for president!” Radical leftist commentator Van Jones stated, “If Oprah Winfrey runs in 2020 she’ll win all 50 states!”
Even conservative journalist Bill O’Reilly waded in, “If Oprah wants the nomination, it is hers to lose!”
Winfrey’s long-time best friend, Gayle King, tried to quell the fervor, saying later, “I don’t think her position has changed” but did playfully add, “you always have the right to change your mind.”
A viable candidate?
For skeptics who snicker and think her candidacy is only a pipe dream, consider two people and their comments.
“I challenge you to see through those people who try to convince you that experience with politics as usual is more valuable than wisdom won from years of serving people outside the walls of Washington, D.C.” (Oprah)
“Oprah would always be my first choice as running mate.” (Trump)
What she brings to the table gets lots of people salivating when they look closely at The Oprah. Consider three important areas for any candidate.
1. Emotional Attraction: personal connection from years of entering into people’s homes and helping them with abuse, health, addictions, hopelessness, racism, debt and relational problems, depression, LGBTQ issues, suicide and makeovers; empowerment and empathy, especially with women, emotionally bonds them to herself as extremely loyal followers; additionally, she’s a woman, a minority, Democrat, Weight-watcher, close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama, plus adored by liberal Hollywood, academia, the media and leftist politicians desperate to see a woman “break the glass ceiling” and finally make it to the Oval Office after Hillary’s failure.
2. Influence: most recognized and admired woman in America for over two decades; before her “Farewell” show in May 2011, she had the highest-rated talk show in TV history, seen by 46 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 140 countries worldwide; OWN cable network and XM Radio broadcasting 24 hours daily and seven days weekly; “Oprah’s Book Club” guaranteeing best-sellers. The “Oprah Brand” and “Oprah Effect” establishes her as one of America’s most influential leaders since Billy Graham!
3. Accolades: one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential People 10 times; an Academy Award and 32 Emmys; five times Forbes’ “World’s Most Powerful Celebrity”; honorary doctorates from Harvard and Duke universities; called the “greatest black philanthropist in history” ($40 million for a South African school for disadvantaged girls along with “Angel Network” initiative); plus, “Worlds First Black Female Billionaire.”
Caution and discernment
My most recent commentary was entitled, “Why media deliberately deceive you.” I strongly encourage you to read it as well as engage with the Bullseye Challenge to sharpen your powers of discernment in these days where deception abounds.
A decade ago I strongly encouraged people to do likewise when Barack Obama ran for president. He was an excellent speaker, intelligent, influential and extremely charismatic. He professed to be a Christian, supporter of biblical marriage and cleverly nuanced the LGBTQ agenda and life in the womb (“above my pay grade”).
Because he was black, youthful and represented an opportunity to put racial sins and guilt behind us, tens of millions were misled. Once elected, he methodically lowered the boom! The result was a near trainwreck for America and a “fundamental transformation” of America that grieved God, distorted our heritage and undermined the Judeo-Christian foundations upon which America was firmly established and remarkably blessed.
Heaven help us if we go down a similar path again!
Here’s the deal: Scripture directs us to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, prayed, “give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”
We must follow criteria God gave us for civil magistrates in Deuteronomy 1:4-18 and Exodus 18:21. The acrostic C.H.E.A.P. (Character, History, Experience, Accomplishments, Platform) lays out helpful non-negotiables to evaluate any political candidate.
I honor Ms. Winfrey for modeling perseverance amidst life’s adversities; utilizing her God-given talents for the betterment of humanity; displaying lavish generosity to bless others, especially the less fortunate; and inspiring people to make right choices to redeem past mistakes and start again optimistically.
What should rightly concern us as biblically informed, obedient Christians is embodied in the refrain we’ve heard for decades, “When Oprah speaks, people listen.”
If she continues identifying with the Democratic Party, espousing its leftist pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ, pro-Planned Parenthood, socialistic, secularist platform …
If she continues validating New Age proponents of trance-channeling, psychic mediums, angelic letters, Aquarian conspiracies, mysticism, “inner light/power,” reincarnation and references to God as the “omniscient, the omnipresent, the ultimate consciousness, source, the force, the all of everything there is, the one, the only G-O-D” …
If she continues affirming the basic equality of all religious leaders, proclaiming, “There are many paths to God” and “He (Jesus) can’t be the only way,” disavowing salvation by faith alone in Christ alone …
If she continues living unashamedly with her live-in lover modeling marriage as unimportant or unessential …
… then there appears to be another opportunity to put our God-given powers of discernment into practice before we’re again caught up in an emotional movement that could lead to another disaster.
Oprah’s seen by millions as “mother of the makeover.” Let’s let God do His makeover that He’s mercifully undertaken to make America great again for His glory and to reach the world with the gospel.