It also hit me that I should have focused more attentively on Oprah’s whole Golden Globe speech before popping off about public reaction to it. I’d only seen snippets and highlights. I sat down and watched it from start to finish and it stirred me. She centered our country’s current situation within the context of recent US history, using a perspective both social and personal. And she’s charismatic—she helped me feel we are strong and unified and can prevail. I understand better why it moved so many people.
Without question, Oprah Winfrey has decades of wide-ranging experience. Through her endeavors she has undoubtedly fostered positive change in the world. Her Golden Globe speech was powerful. But this is not a Winfrey For President post. On the other hand, it’s not an Oprah Don’t Run post either. When it comes to the next presidential campaign, we're still safely snuggled in the seat of hypotheticals, probabilities, and conjecture. I'm going to bask in that as long as I can. The job of carefully evaluating official candidates will come soon enough.
I think progressives share an unspoken sense of the responsibility we will have once that soon enough arrives. We do know this; the next election will be profoundly important whether or not Robert Mueller has made his way high enough by then to force a personnel change at the top. We know such a change won’t solve everything. No matter how far down the line of succession this current bunch has to go to replace their latest mistake, that great office will continue to be stained as long as they are in it.
We'll have a number of concerns to juggle as we select our next nominee, and electability is a major factor. That is surely one reason for the clamoring for Winfrey to run. We have to win in 2020. The task of getting it right is daunting, our responsibility nerve-wracking.
But we have time, and the prospects are plentiful. If you don't see that now, remember, you don't have to yet. Relish that. When the time comes, let's see who steps up and listen to what each of them has to say. We will make the right choice, as long as we do a few essential things.
We must be extraordinarily patient and thoughtful as we’re deciding which candidate to support. As the campaigns start in earnest, we'll all have gut reactions, initial conceptions, early favorites. We can’t let those early impressions harden too fast. Let the information flow in. We must listen so closely to everything they say. These people are running for president. We have to demand more, better debates and town halls and in-depth interviews, with hard questions and time provided for real answers. Let’s show each sponsoring media outlet that we are willing to--want to--stay tuned and sort through the details.
We have to read. Please, people. Not just the blog posts and social media commentary but the articles. Not just their headlines and lead paragraphs, whole articles. We have to dig deeper. Go to the candidates’ websites and click past the neat little summaries of issue stances and on to more substantive policy statements. If a website doesn’t go that deep, ask for more, and pay attention to what you get back. Meanwhile look for more on their positions elsewhere.
Keep remembering, these people are running for president. How much time will we make for this process, coming soon enough? This whole thing is up to us. How much work will we put in? I don’t mean canvassing for your candidate once chosen, or getting out the vote. Before that. Will we make enough time to truly hear out the folks who are asking for our votes? They must make their case. Let’s be slow to line up behind any one contender. This will be hard. I know I will probably have an early sense of where my support should go. But I can pledge to try to take it all in first.
There’s another thing we have to do if we’re going to set things right. I feel both the urgency of it and a dread that we won’t do it. We have to be nice to each other throughout the process. Does that sound trite? It isn’t. Should it go without saying? It doesn’t. Let’s hope we’ve learned our lesson. Paying attention to how we treat each other throughout such a trying, far-reaching endeavor is not shallow or banal, it isn’t automatic or easy, and this does need to be said. We have to do this together. We have to be patient, treat each other well, and keep our eyes on the prize when there is conflict.
So lower your voice - no really. Dude. Lower your voice. Breathe and wait before hitting send. Be nice. Cultivate humility. Walk things back. I made myself do that here, about the Winfrey speech. It's hard, but, as it turns out, not that hard. I bet practice will make it even easier. Let’s practice this stuff now before soon enough arrives.
Is all this even possible??? I don’t know. These are the things we always say we will do. Will we finally do them? I don’t know. But we have to try.
So, Oprah 2020? Why not? Who knows? But she'll have to take one of hopefully many spots on the stage and set about convincing us. Who will be up there beside her if she goes? Who else is out there? Let's wait and see. Let’s ease into this slowly, let the field develop, listen hard, read everything, ask for information, make an informed, studied choice, and treat each other with kindness in the process.
Soon enough is coming.
Let's be careful out there.