By Sumayah Medlin
Ever since the outcome of the controversial 2016 presidential election, Democrats have become desperate for any rising voice that can quell concerns over liberal issues in the U.S. When Oprah Winfrey gave an awe-inspiring speech at the 2018 Golden Globes in support of the “Me Too” movement, people were already in support of her running in the 2020 election.
Winfrey is one of the few black celebrities, along with Beyoncé and Michelle Obama, who has managed to surpass racial boundaries to reconcile both racial and gender issues in the same speech. In her acceptance speech as the first black woman to receive the Cecile B. DeMille award, she recalled seeing Sidney Poitier become the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, and noted that it was the first time she saw a black man be publicly celebrated.
Later in her speech, she referenced the “Me Too” movement by ending with the powerful statement, “A new day is on the horizon, and when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody has to say ‘Me Too’ again.”
Winfrey, however, is not the first or the only public figure to be considered presidential material. Michelle Obama has been pushed to run for president, despite having previously stated in interviews that she would not want to take on the task. Even 18-year-old “Grownish” actress Yara Shahidi was referred to as “the future president” by composer Lin Manuel Miranda, along with other Twitter users.
Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is the latest public figure to be considered a potential presidential prospect. Gonzalez made herself a household name after delivering a passionate speech in support of gun control at an anti-gun rally following the shooting. One of her most highlighted remarks was directed toward President Donald Trump.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m gonna happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said before she eagerly answered her own question — $30 million.
Most of the comments about public figures running for president are jokes, especially since most of the subjects, apart from Winfrey and Michelle Obama, are not eligible to run. However, some of these comments, even if they are meant as jokes, can be very dangerous.
Shahidi, Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Gonzalez all share stances that most liberals agree with on topics such as immigration, gun control and sexual assault. However, it should take more than a speech for someone to be seen as a potential presidential candidate.
I would never push Michelle Obama to be president, no matter how politically conscious she is, because I know that that is not what she wants for herself. Winfrey, whether she initially wanted to or not, has stated that she does not plan on running because she is not qualified.
Someone’s first elected position in public office should not be commander in chief, which is why these jokes can be so dangerous. We live in a country where the current president is a former business tycoon and reality TV star.
Democrats and Republicans were shocked when Trump won over Hillary Clinton, and I bet that some Democrats didn’t vote, assuming that Clinton would win by a landslide regardless. The past couple of years have taught us how surprising people can be when it comes to voting. Prior to the election, most were joking about the possibility of Trump winning and what that would entail, but by November, it was no longer a joke.
As voters, we have a responsibility to stay informed and research possible candidates with actual experience. We shouldn’t just vouch for our favorite celebrity or the next person who writes a viral tweet or gives a compelling speech, no matter how powerful it may be.
Students share opinions around campus
“A president doesn’t have to be a politician. They just need a good educational background.”