Oprah gave a really good speech at the Golden Globes and, with that, is now the Democratic frontrunner for the presidency in 2020. I know, we’re still years off from the election and she hasn’t even announced her candidacy. Yet, somehow, this hasn’t stopped people from saying that she should run.
And with that, the head of the Executive Office is nothing more than the most popular person at the time. Qualification has nothing to do with it anymore.
About 2,300 years ago,
Socrates Plato pointed out that a democracy is probably the worst form of government you can have.* The reasons were many, including that when everyone has an equal voice, no one has a voice (in a 51-49 vote, almost half the people don’t get what they want, which causes polarization), that people tend to elect fools, and so on. Early on in democracies people will choose qualified leaders who seek out the common good and seek to protect both the majority and minority. But, as time goes on, people tend to vote for whoever pleases them the most, the most entertaining, the craftiest, until one day we’re electing outright fools who aren’t qualified for the job. Then, when people get tired of the fools, they happily put a strongman into power to set the government right again and they willingly turn toward a dictatorship. Ironically, a mere 300 years after writing this the Romans went and did exactly what Plato said would happen.
In fact, every democracy since Plato has pretty much gone, “lol, ok” to his assessment and then subsequently proven his analysis true. Here we have the United States, a democratic republic that has lasted for 231 years (remember, the Constitution founded the democratic republic and that was in 1787). Seems impressive until you realize that the Roman Republic – a type of democracy – lasted 424 years. Likewise, just like the Roman Republic, our nation ran into tons of problems early on, but keeps running into problems (fun fact: the Founding Fathers actually disagreed with the Greek ideal of democracy and instead adopted the Roman ideal of having a patrician class ruling the government; so they didn’t want “freedom and justice” for all, but rather only wanted it for a landed gentry class). Many of the problems we’re facing today do echo the problems of the institution within the Roman Republic, but at an earlier stage. And while neither is analogous to each other and there are more differences than similarities, the similarities tend to prove the rule put forth by Plato; all democracies turn to shit (possibly an exact quote).
And so here we are, facing down the barrel of a loaded gun in 2020 where we’ll have Trump vs Oprah. Sweet Jesus help us now. And I don’t hate Oprah, she seems nice enough, but for the love of God what are her qualifications? At least be a governor first. Get some experience! The mere fact that so many Democrats are willing to devalue the executive office to amateurism simply to defeat Trump shows that we’re well beyond the point of, “voting for whoever promises us the most.”
How would an Oprah presidency even work? How much money could we set aside for the “You Get A Car” program? Would we start having to reach under our seats to find surprises or our tax returns? Who knows, maybe she’d pull that shit with congress. I can imagine Paul Ryan wanting to destroy our social services, only to flip and vote for universal healthcare after he reaches under his seat and sees he has a free membership to the club, provided by Oprah. Maybe she wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Ultimately, this is one billionaire vs another billionaire. Nothing would scream “out of touch” for the Democrats more than running their own billionaire. Look, giant robotic heroes fighting ugly inter dimensional monsters works for Pacific Rim (not so much Pacific Rim 2), but it doesn’t work for our elections. We need to run someone who is qualified, who’s good for the job, who’s charismatic, has experience, and that person is…oh, right, Democrats have done fuckol to cultivate talent. So…shit.
*Fun little side note: Plato thought that Kallipolis was the best form of government, a government ruled by reluctant philosopher kings. Men who would rather contemplate philosophy rather than rule, but who are forced into a position of ruling. While that sounds silly to us, think of all the modern films where when the hero is chosen to take charge and become the leader, he’s very reluctant to do so. While we think Plato’s idea might be silly, it plays on something within us where we want reluctant leaders, something that’s impossible to have within a democracy.