Why NOT Oprah for president?

 

I love Oprah — as an entertainer, as a human being, but not as a candidate for president.

 

I don’t want Oprah to run for president.

I know, I know, now you think I’m being racist, but hear me out.

We don’t need another entertainer in the White House. The two we’ve had –Ronald Reagan and the current occupant have both been disasters.

I’m not saying Oprah is in this class; I’m saying she’s a consummate entertainer. She’s charismatic and brilliant, and by accounts I’ve read, a kind and compassionate woman who has experienced poverty and tragedy in her life.

But she’s not who we need in the White House right now.

What we need is someone with political and public policy experience, not someone who knows how to make a good speech. If my pipes burst, I’m going to call an experienced plumber, not someone who is willing to learn on the job. My basement is flooded now and I want someone who knows how to deal with it now.

Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a squeaky, high-pitched voice. So, although he was brilliant and eloquent, his voice probably made his speeches less than rousing. What made him great was his political courage, his leadership skills, his willingness to do things that would not have polled well in his time.

Lyndon Johnson was a dick by all accounts, and he made some serious mistakes with respect to Vietnam, but he pushed through Medicare and Medicaid and civil rights laws — all politically unpopular in his time. He wanted to end the war in Vietnam so he could fight the war on poverty. He never got to do that because of the power of the war lobby.

What we need is someone with the courage to fight special interests and the understanding of how to do it.

What we need is someone willing to stand up to Big Pharma, Big Insurance and the rest and get single-payer health care passed, someone with the political know-how to make compromises without climbing into bed with these lobbies.

We need someone who understands energy policy well enough to overcome all the power of Big Oil and get us on the path to renewable energy technology.

We need someone with the political skills to pass a Constitutional amendment getting rid of Citizens United.

What we need is someone who’s willing to end our wars and bring about an economy of peace.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, in this the 50th anniversary year of his assassination. I remember his life and his death, and I remember what he stood for. And I’m not sure he would have been an effective president, either. His place was with us in the streets, demanding the politicians and policymakers do right by the nation and its people. He admitted that he was not a policymaker, and he called on policymakers to do the right thing.

How are we ever going to get racial, social and economic justice if we just keep electing the popular kid to lead us?

Ignorance of public policy and how it gets made is not a quality I want in any politician. I want the people we elect to be specialists, not prom kings and queens. The captain of the football team is knowledgeable about sports, but not curriculum. He might not be the best choice for school board.

Oprah might be just the person we need to help us hold those we do elect accountable. She might be a great resistance leader, although I have yet to see that side of her. Is she willing to stand up and tell truth to power? Her speech at the awards show was rousing, but she never called out the pretender in the White House by name, and what has she said and done since, while she’s not in an evening gown at a podium in front of the cameras?

Don’t get me wrong, if she had public policy experience, if she had a record we could point to and say, “yes, she signed on to the renewable energy bill,” or “she helped to write and introduce a bill for single-payer health care,” or even that she had read and understood these bills.

But she has not.

I know she’s a quick learner, but just who are the people with whom she will surround herself? Are they more of the corporate-friendly Democrats who have done little or nothing to raise minimum wage to a living wage? Are they people who say we can’t get single-payer done right now? Are they unwilling to fight for public education and unions?

I don’t want that again.

The reason I supported Bernie Sanders was not because he was an old white man, it was because he promised to work toward a single-payer system right now. And yet, I sincerely hope he doesn’t run again. It is time to pass the baton of leadership to the next generation. Yeah, go ahead and call me ageist because of that, and call me racist because I don’t support Oprah. Don’t look at my history of work for racial justice, just look at this one issue this one time and judge me. After all, it’s not about the past or the future, it’d only about right now, this moment, when we all love Oprah, and if we don’t, we’re somehow flawed.

Instead of talking about why I disagree with you, just walk away and call me names. That’s exactly what the corporate overlords want from you. I got a lot of that when I posted a selfie of me and Sen. Cory Booker, because he voted against a bill that didn’t benefit pharmaceutical companies — probably the largest employers of his constituents.

No one is going to be perfect, people.

So, what do I want? I want us to find people to run for office who will be good, even great, public servants, people who understand the complexities of public policy and who know how to work toward a better future, just as I would want an experienced plumber and not someone who can learn on the job, when my pipes burst.

We have to stop being a society that rewards ignorance because we want a president with whom we’d enjoy having a beer and watching a game.

I’d love to see Tammy Duckworth, a combat veteran, a woman of color, a woman of proven courage, and now a woman with public policy experience, toss her hat into the ring.

See what I did there? Instead of just complaining, I proposed a solution. Let’s be willing to do that, OK? Let’s be willing to talk things out instead of calling each other names the moment we disagree.

 

 

 

Trump’s words were not just idle chatter

I believe the women.

I believe the women.

As an increasing number of women come out and say Donald Trump assaulted them, some of his supporters still snort and say he’s innocent of such things.

But let me tell you, I believe the women. The former writer for People Magazine painted a picture so real I felt like I was watching a video clip.

I have been a woman in the workplace and I know what unwelcome advances are like.

There was the supervisor who turned down the heat in the office so he could see women’s erect nipples. When one of us overheard him bragging about it, we all started wearing loose sweatshirts at our desks.

Then there was Bob, a man at a small newspaper who pursued me every damn day for weeks, even taking to calling me at home with lewd suggestions. When I reported him to the publisher, the man said, “Oh, that’s just Bob.”

So, I went back to my desk, and within a few minutes, Bob was there, suggesting we take a couple hours away from the office.

I asked for his home phone number, and, leering, he gave it to me. I stood up.

“Attention, everyone,” I said. “I need witnesses to this.”

I turned to Bob.

“If you ever utter another word to me that isn’t work-related, I will call your wife. I will tell her what hell you have put me through here at work, and I’ll bet I can find other women to back me up.”

Bob skulked away and behaved himself after that, but I found another job as quickly as I could because I didn’t want to be in the same town as Bob anymore.

Another time, while I was on a sales call, a man cornered me and started groping and trying to kiss me. I managed to get away and he made some remark about how he understood why I was divorced because I was a “frigid bitch.”

My boss found out about it and went to visit the offender, offering to take a baseball bat to the creep if he ever made a move on a person in his employ again. I didn’t need my boss to do that, but it was nice to know a man in a position of authority had respect for me.

There was the company president who didn’t hire me because he didn’t like having women work for him because of their “monthly unreliability.”

I was fired once because the boss thought my shoes were “slutty.”

I have been paid less than men doing the same work because of my gender.

I have been called Baby and Honey and Sweetie.

I have been talked over and interrupted as though my professional opinion meant nothing.

I have been groped and pinched.

I have been molested.

I have been raped.

Women don’t make this shit up, and when a man admits he can kiss a woman without permission, that he can grab her genitalia, simply because he wants to and he can get away with it because he’s rich and/or famous, that doesn’t come from thin air.

Yes, men talk smack and exaggerate, but when women start coming forward with stories as detailed as these women, when first one, then another, and then another come forward with credible, creepy stories, I tend to believe them.

Don’t start talking to me about Bill Clinton or Bill Cosby as though I somehow defended their behavior because I never have. I have only said that Clinton’s Oval Office blow job was consensual, which it was.

If Trump were running for dogcatcher, perhaps his utter disrespect for women wouldn’t make a difference, although he still wouldn’t get my vote.

But he is running for President of the United States, and he actually has millions of supporters — or at least millions who think he’s somehow a better choice than his opponent.

This is just another example of the rape culture that is so pervasive in American society now. We believe men who make comments like this and then say they were “only kidding,” but we either refuse to believe women who say they have been assaulted or we blame them.

We tell them they were wearing the wrong thing or we were in the wrong place (alone with a male colleague in his office, for example). We shouldn’t have accepted that invitation to talk about an ad campaign over dinner or to work on a project after hours so we could make a deadline.

Or in the case of the People reporter, we interview a man for a story. As a former reporter, I can attest to the fear we sometimes feel when we land alone with someone we think might be a predator. I made it a practice to do interviews in a public place or with people nearby who could hear me if I screamed. I never let story subjects buy me a meal.

Still, there were plenty of men who made suggestive remarks (although there were fewer as I got older) when they thought no one could hear.

So, why don’t we say something then and there?

Because he’s more powerful than we are and he could ruin us, and to defend himself, he probably will. Because we know we’ll catch the blame for the incident in the end.

If you want to support Trump, that’s your choice. If you believe he’s innocent of all charges, fine. Believe what you want. It’s your vote.

However, if you come onto one of my posts on social media and start telling me I have no right to be creeped out by this monster, I will block you.

If you troll on another woman’s post in the same manner, I will block you. Because if you have so little respect for women that you can’t understand why we find him abhorrent in what he says and does, I have nothing in common with you.

My experience with men like Trump is real and I will not allow anyone to invalidate it.

 

 

 

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