O Oprah, Oprah, wherefore art thou Oprah?
The Democrats’ attempt at unseating President Donald Trump is in its nascent stages, but it’s starting to feel a little star-crossed. Despite a crowded sea of hopefuls, no true love match has emerged.
If you ask me, that’s because she hasn’t decided to run.
Oprah Winfrey, the self-made mogul and book club baroness, America’s therapist and national treasure, has been the subject of considerable speculation and prodding for the past few years to take on her evil television twin in the White House. But she’s repeatedly swatted it away.
It’s hard to blame anyone for not wanting to take on the considerably odious job of going up against a character even Shakespeare would dismiss as too blunt for verse and too ridiculous for prose — and the Bard is a guy who wrote of talking donkeys, a king with an anal fistula, and baking men into pies.
But some early foreshadowing in the first act of the Democratic primary has me even more convinced that she and she alone can defeat the Donald, and unless she takes up the challenge, Dems are doomed to tragedy.
For starters, the 2020 Democratic field is, thus far, demonstrably weak. The proof? So many have entered it. Bernie Sanders should be a frontrunner, but his one-day fundraising total of $5.9 million was just surpassed by Beto O’Rourke, an upstart congressman who couldn’t beat Ted Cruz, the Shakespeare villain to end all villains.
No single candidate has the resources, name recognition, charisma, clarity of message or natural base to compete with Trump, who, according to new CNN reporting, is significantly better positioned in terms of fundraising and infrastructure than he was in 2016. (Not even Joe Biden, who’s supposedly close to jumping in; if and when he does, watch left-wing Democrats go crazy dissecting his supposedly insufficiently liberal positions on corporations, criminal justice and more.)
Oprah, however, has it all.
Likewise, Democrats have unnecessarily boxed themselves in to intraparty purity tests that will render the eventual nominee both insufficiently progressive for a small but vocal minority of far-left activists and too extreme for a majority of voters.
Winfrey isn’t as beholden to these polarizing policy strictures and therefore won’t pay as significant a price as, say, Elizabeth Warren would, for denouncing as impractical the Green New Deal or the abolition of ICE. She can run as a Democrat and still transcend politics with a voice that is both compassionate and common sense.
This Democratic field is also being pulled in two directions: the desire for revenge and the desire for unity. Candidates denounce Trump’s divisiveness and pay lip service to uniting the country, but have decided that finding common policy ground or comity between the parties is considered a betrayal, a lesson potential candidate Biden recently learned the hard way.
On a host of issues, it’s unclear what is driving the party. Is the idea of stacking the Supreme Court about seeking justice or punishment? Are reparations a way to make the country heal, or make the country pay?
Unlike the rest, Oprah has the advantage of a well-defined brand — one of empowerment, lifting up and bringing together. It won’t look conspicuous or like a character flaw when she tries to build bridges.
Yes, it’s early. But there are natural handicaps to this Democratic field that will not change or improve with time. The party’s self-imposed obstacles are a serious advantage for Trump. Without Oprah, 2020 could be a comedy of errors, or worse, a tragedy for Democrats. But with her, it might just be historical.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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