This is not to say I would not vote for Oprah in 2020 if she were the Democratic candidate in a showdown for the ages with Donald Trump. I totally would. And I would cheer my damn ass off at the debates because I have no doubt she could break him like a matchstick if they went head to head.
But I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want the Rock to run. I don’t want Mark Cuban to run. I don’t want Tina Fey or Bill Gates or Elon Musk or any non-politician to run. I don’t want them to run for all the same reasons I didn’t want Trump to run: they don’t know the business.
Politics and government are an industry. There are norms and rules. There are protocols. There is institutional knowledge and intensive issue expertise throughout all levels of government. There is jargon. There are acronyms. There is procedure. There are reasons for all of it.
You are going to be better at the job of president if you know some or all of this before you walk in the door. If you spent your whole career climbing to the top of an entirely different industry, chance are there are major gaps in your knowledge of the business of government. You will be learning on the fly and, frankly, that’s not a good scenario.
I mean…just look at what’s going on in the current amateur hour on Pennsylvania Avenue. These people don’t even know how not to obstruct justice, never mind ensure justice for the people they serve.
I have enormous respect for career politicians and political and government staffers. The hours are long, the work is often frustrating and tedious, the victories are few and far between but the payoff is being a part of a functioning democracy and serving a public that deserves no less than the best and the brightest entering public service. If you are not called to do this from your earliest days, if you look upon running for the presidency as the thing you do to cap off a lifetime of other accolades, you are not the right person for the job.
Honestly, I’d like to see presidential candidates take a basic competency test. Maybe something based off the Civil Service exam or the test immigrants take to acquire citizenship. Make sure the voters know what you know and what you need to learn.
So, while Oprah is a great humanitarian and a star of unparalleled brightness, she is not the best choice for our next president. For that job, we need a politician.