Oprah Winfrey’s powerful speech at the Golden Globes threw the media mogul into the conversation about the 2020 presidential race. And yes. I'm as excited as a young Josh Peck would be after hearing the news. Though probably not for the same reason.
Oprah possibly running for office means having a conversation about qualifications of being president. I know, in grade-school we were taught that you have to be born here and have reached the age of 35. But hopefully, the few Americans who venture into voting booths use some other criteria.
The research is pretty certain that political party is the only factor that matters, but before a candidate gets on the ballot they must have a reasonable amount of support. It seems that the support is behind people with no experience in politics; star of the reality TV show, "Shark Tank" Mark Cuban is contemplating a run for president in 2020. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Will Smith, and Oprah, of course, round off a list of others who have hinted at competing for the executive office. Being that our current president's last job was reality TV star, it seems as though Trump laid the groundwork for future celeb presidents. But, I think it's a little more complicated than that.
The admiration for popular figures and their subsequent support in office is not a new concept. Though, the most recent wave of celebrities in politics isn't surprising. Support for American politicians is at record lows. And for good reasons: commonplace legislative decisions have become impossible tasks, as even passing common sense bills require a tug-of-wars. One party sits on the floor of Congress like toddlers and the other, from all I can tell, has been screaming the same two words for a decade (I won’t name names).
A lot of the political inaction stems from Americans simply having lost faith in the political system after the 2008 market crash. In America, we became tea-partiers and occupiers, looking for outsiders, but remember, the whole world felt that crash. Some countries, exhausted "with the normal process of party politics" brought technocrats in. For example, Greece elected an economics professor. In Asia, Singapore and China have filled government with technocrats. And in those countries, they actually listen to them. What are technocrats? I thought you’d never ask.
Technocrats are public servants with technical expertise. Managers. “Budgeters.” The nerds that run government — do the doing — while politicians give speeches. In the past, the United States has had these "policy wonks" run for office. The 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson fit the bill. He was an academic -- a political scientist who helped found the field of public administration. Outside of Wilson, "technocrats" haven't reached past governorships for the most part.
Big surprise, nerds aren't popular.
The US public is more likely to meme-ify experts running for office than vote for them. They did the equivalent of that to Micheal Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election against George Bush Senior. One comedian quipped, "’He's Jimmy Carter in tweed without a brother.’ *Sardonic snickers* ‘I'm not saying the Duke is boring, but whoever thought we'd be reminiscing about the charismatic Mondale campaign?’"
Oooooo political burn.
Even then, technocrats were seen as nerds in "green eyeshades trained in accounting and Civil Service regulations". Econometrics, systems analysis, and statistics just don't inspire crowds. But, shiny teeth, name recognition, and strong TV personas do. Celebrities have the two things needed to run for office and win in the American system: money and clout.
Granted, it may be that running a country takes more than brains. Composure, crowd appeal, and political savvy definitely help in getting the public to believe in you. And there is something to say for the argument that every decision can't be quantified, laid out in a chart, graph, or equation.
Nevertheless, every day, American workers fill-out applications for jobs, and employers comb through these piles of paper for skills that fit the job opening. Isn't it weird that when it comes to the biggest job in the land, the idea of merit and skills can play second fiddle to number of years spent talking on television?
I loved Oprah's speech, enjoyed her show, and am inspired by her story, but the ability to interview celebrities doesn't strike me as a prerequisite for directing national policy. But what do I know? The current guy used to rent out property, run pageants, and got paid to say a catchphrase.