THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Erin Kotecki Vest Headshot

I Tried To Tell You: Why Oprah Matters

Posted: Updated:

Back in October of last year I posted a piece here on HuffPo after I had watched a then, undeclared, Senator Obama sit with Oprah.

"Oprah is talking to Obama about the possibility of him running for President in 2008. And I'm ignoring the cries of 'WHERE IS SPONGEBOB!' to hear the answer.

A daytime talk show host is pushing politics on her show...and this mother is not only listening intently, but sitting on the edge of her seat to hear the banter.

Welcome to the new spin on campaigning, and the new breed of Mom voter. Get used to politicians and their wives on Oprah being watched by educated homemakers with tattoos and outspoken opinions. Get used to this making many people uncomfortable."

Now we see Ms. Winfrey and the candidate stumping and it's working.

Go ahead and shake your head that some talk show host is making a difference in the '08 election. Go ahead and roll your eyes that these mothers and women care.

Fellow BlogHer Morra Aarons-Mele writes:

"If you follow politics, you've no doubt heard that unmarried women represent a holy grail of voters: 50 million or so likely Democrats that year after year, flirt with voting and political activism, but don't commit. This cycle, they're dubbed the 'Sex and the City voters.' To woo these women, the establishment provides celebrities, and catchy spots laced with sexual innuendo -- ooh, winking about their first time! Voting, that is.

My friend and Democratic pollster Margie Omero sent me the post about the Single Anxious Female frame. She noted to me, 'Women, across marital status groups, vote at a higher rate than do men. But the coverage stemming from concern about 'Single Anxious Women' (even called the 'Sex in the City Voter') not only doesn't reflect the data, it trivializes women.' Even in 2007, women are pitched civics lessons as if we can only relate to global affairs if the issues are dressed in sexy shoes, just-folks style dishing, or are at lunch with Samantha, Carrie and the girls."

I suppose there is an argument to be make about gimmicks and celebrities being busted out for votes. I also think there is an argument to be made that Oprah is trusted and speaks to most women.

Marty Kaplan writes, "...Oprah may actually be the twenty-first century's de facto national anchor. She really does channel -- and change -- Middle America."

A national anchor that has the ear of just about every American woman I know.

Go ahead and laugh if you want, or be disgusted by "some celebrity" making a difference. Maybe you don't care for her charity work or maybe you don't like that she is wealthy and powerful. Maybe you don't like that she does it with women top of mind. Whatever the reason, I suggest you take notice. As I mentioned in October,

"According to Women's Voices. Women Vote. 20 million women did not vote in the last election. That's 20 million women.

I'm guessing Oprah can reach a few of those 20 million women. I'm guessing Mommybloggers can reach a few of those 20 million women. I'm guessing the honesty and hopefulness of a young Senator can reach a few of those 20 million women.

I'm guessing YOU had better redefine that tiny box of yours to include 20 million different kinds of woman. We're not clear cut. We're not all Donna Reed. We're not all what you think a woman should be. What a mother should be. What a sister should be. What a daughter, aunt, girlfriend, or Oprah watcher should be.

But we sure as hell can vote."

I caution you to realize this does not only apply to Obama. As BlogHer's Catherine Morgan points out, there are over 300 women discussing politics in blogs. Even my much-ridiculed Mommyblogger circle is educated and in on the act.

I'm tired of the snickering from those who find this less-than-serious politics. I'm tired of the feeling women voters are "cute" and entranced by Oprah or Hillary's new hair-do.

I suggest the mainstream media and other writers, political campaigns, and candidates themselves learn a lesson from the Oprah effect. As I've heard BlogHer Co-founder Lisa Stone say many times about many different things: "ignore us at your own peril."

Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog and BlogHer.com