On October 16, 2006 I wrote an email to Arianna Huffington and said, “I think that Barack Obama is going to run and based on what I saw in his Keynote Address in 2004, he is ready to be our next President.”
At that time almost everyone scoffed at the idea that this young “kid”, just 21 months in The United States Senate, was, or could ever be a serious contender for the Presidency in 2008.
Arianna said, “Write it and we’ll run it”.
So, 2 years and 1 month before he was elected the 44th President of The United States I wrote "He's Ready"
I’m having the same feelings today.
I believe that Oprah Winfrey “Is Ready” to be an extraordinary President of our country.
And here are the 7 reasons why I say this:
1. Oprah Winfrey IS “The American Dream”. Dirt poor growing up in the 50s and 60s in the deep, deep South of rural Mississippi she fought the overwhelming prejudice of race and the prejudice of gender to make it in America, against all the odds.
2. She is unbelievably smart, endlessly curious, totally dedicated to learning and growing and has “it”. She has the wisdom and passion to change the world of a Nelson Mandela, the star quality of a JFK, the dedication to a deeply spiritual and good life of a Pope Francis or Dalai Lama, the communication skills and charm of a Ronald Reagan and the magic and vulnerability of Princess Diana.
3. She actually, honestly, really cares. This is a rare quality in politics and something that voters deeply care about. It can not be dismissed. A perception of lack of feeling helped cause Al Gore and Hillary Clinton's defeat . . . and the perception of deep caring significantly helped propel Donald Trump to victory. Years of tears on television are an asset here.
4. America is a heavily religious/spiritual country and Oprah Winfrey is genuinely and deeply spiritual. While not an overtly religious “Christian”, Oprah’s very prominent spiritual beliefs are, to many, exactly what Jesus himself taught – to love one another, to care about one another, to never judge another and that Unconditional Love is what religion and spirituality are really all about.
5. Oprah is a real, indisputable, business success story and a real leader. She may not have a golden toilet but she definitely has “The Golden Touch”. Everything she touches seems to turn to gold . . . acting roles, producing television shows, hosting television shows, producing Academy Award winning movies, magazines and even television networks. She entered a man's world and - for decades - has dominated it! With leadership skills like this I have little doubt that she will, indeed, surround herself with “the best people” and choose a smart, experienced, worldly cabinet to advise her in foreign policy, military policy and in other areas she has yet to master.
6. And, yes, she’s a woman. Even beyond the current "Me Too!" and "It's Time" movements, with multiple existential military and environmental threats facing us and indeed growing, perhaps it truly is time for women - that part of the species that has been genetically created to nurture and care for things - to play an even larger role in geopolitical affairs. Perhaps it’s time to balance out, or replace those with dangerous Testosterone tendencies like Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, Recep Erdogan, Vladimir Putin and so many others, with those who look at politics and life in different ways.
7. And on a practical level, but an enormously important one, Oprah can humanize politics and bring millions and millions of new voters out to vote and to engage in our nation’s politics.
To his credit, Donald Trump did this in 2016, energizing many who had disengaged and given up, or simply never been interested in politics. But in 2016 there were still over 102 Million eligible American citizens who did not vote. Inspire even 10% of those disengaged Americans and you create a political earthquake that changes not only The White House but also The House of Representatives, The Senate and, ultimately even The Supreme Court for decades. Oprah, probably more than almost any American alive, can reach people who would never otherwise register or show up at a polling booth on November 3, 2020, or on November 6, 2018. And this, alone, can change America.
(And, if she runs, Oprah Winfrey will almost certainly be elected. A little known secret in political communication is that the better communicator almost always wins Presidential elections, regardless of party, experience, levels of funding or any other variables.)
I believe there are many fine, qualified and even inspiring candidates who could run to lead this nation in 2020. But, in the history of our nation, and perhaps any nation, there has never been an Oprah Winfrey. She is a national treasure, one of the greatest communicators in history and a gift to our nation and the world.
And if she chooses to do so, Oprah Winfrey is absolutely ready to bring her gifts to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Richard Greene is author of “Words That Shook The World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events” and a political communication strategist who has worked on Presidential and Prime Ministerial campaigns in 6 countries around the world. His TED Talk is "The 7 Secrets of The Greatest Speakers in History"" and he is Founder of a new movement to engage more people in the political process with his www.279forChange.us website, RHGreene@aol.com