By Jacqueline Salit
I watched you at the Golden Globes on Sunday night. Congratulations! You looked beautiful and it must have been great to feel all the love in the room.
Now the talk is all about your running for President. It seems a lot of people would like you to run, must be another sign that so many are sick of politicians. After all, that’s part of why Donald Trump won the election last year.
Less than 24 hours after your speech, the pundits and consultants got busy discussing all the ways that an Oprah candidacy would shore up the Democratic Party coalition. They said it would inspire African Americans—over a million of whom passed on voting for Hillary, unconvinced that Clintonian politics would truly benefit them— and women, especially those newly energized by the MeToo Movement, who were vocally represented in the Golden Globes ballroom. (Side note: I think it’s a good thing for Hollywood to clean up its act. It’s about time the industry took stock of its exploitative culture. I do have to admit some sympathy with Megyn Kelly’s post-Globe remarks about how Hollywood has spent decades dictating a moral path to flyover country, only to have its own moral corruption exposed. I wondered whether any woman in Hollywood said anything about Steve Bannon calling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” No? Didn’t think so.)
Oprah, back to you. Here’s my point. In a split second, your speculative candidacy was being sliced and diced by the political professionals, and cast into a partisan (Democrat) baking pan. I, for one, paused to ask myself an obvious if “verboten” question. Is Oprah thinking of running for president as an independent?
Given how corrupt and self-serving the parties have become, and given how much power you have to move people to self-reflection and developmental action, I hope you are considering an independent option if you are at all serious about a run. I’m sure lots of important people are calling you now, trying to influence your thinking. All good. You are a strong woman and an independent thinker. Don’t let the party bureaucrats contain your process, not when 43% of Americans now consider themselves independents, according to the latest Gallup poll out this week.
Along these lines, here is a list of calls I would urge you to make, to give you a more rounded and nonpartisan view of the possibilities.
1) Call Dr. Lenora Fulani, the brash developmental psychologist and community organizer who ran for president in 1988 as an independent when she became the first woman and first African American ever to achieve presidential ballot access in all 50 states. She’d have a lot to share with you. A reporter once asked her on the campaign trail which was harder—being black or being a woman. She replied: being an independent. Of course, as an outsider, Lenora had to fight tooth and nail for press coverage (still does) while the media will attach itself to you like white on rice. That’s a plus. Talk to her. She has a unique and independent wisdom and, like you, a deep following among women of color. Also, among independents of all backgrounds.
2) Call Peter Ackerman. Peter is a very successful business leader and an ingenious disruptor who believes the two party system is fundamentally corrupt. He has spearheaded and funded a very significant court case to open the presidential debates to include an independent candidate, taking on the corrupt Federal Election Commission and the even more corrupt Commission on Presidential Debates in the process. America’s political system needs a structural retooling to make it fair and viable. He will inspire you with the possibilities that exist for doing so.
3) Call the leaders of the many sectors of the independent political movement. Let us paint a picture of “the politics of otherness” for you. Let us introduce you to grassroots independents from across the country and across the political spectrum who will tell you they want to get out of the trap of ideology to create a new America.
Oprah, you are a unique woman in many ways. You walk the corridors of power and you haven’t forgotten the people—poor people, marginalized people, brutalized people—who brought you into this world and raised you up. You said it yourself at the Globes. A new day is on the horizon. That’s inspiring. And it’s also serious business.
I can help you with all the above. Call me at 1-800-288-3201. I’ll hook you up.
(First published by IVN)