City Pulse

By Madison Parker

This isn’t a political piece. I mean, we’re a beauty and lifestyle publication – right? So I’d have as much business writing a political piece as, say, a talk show host diva would have telling us all who to vote for in the next presidential election. Ooopse! Anyhoo…this is an opinion piece on how America’s queen of daytime and self appointed cover girl has taken it upon herself not only to tell us what books to read, but now she’s telling us who to vote for. Though she deserves respect and acknowledgment for her accomplishments, does she deserve the right to tell the rest of us what to do with our vote?

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Oprah Winfrey apparently believes that we cannot think for ourselves. She likes to tell us what to wear, what books are worth our time (does A Million Little Pieces ring a bell?), how to navigate our marriages (yet she remains single), and how to raise our children (though she hasn’t any of her own). So I’ve been wondering more about us than Oprah; what makes us such sheep that we blindly follow Ms. O and other celebrities? Are we still living in the good old days of chubby Oprah, who was every housewife’s best friend and had shared experiences similar to much of her audience? Has anyone but myself noticed that the big O moved on once she made her millions (ahem, billion) off the backs of middle America’s middle-aged, middle-income stay-at-home moms? The once down-to-earth daytime doyenne seems to have room only for celebrity pals (and Gail) and has taken to temper tantrums when not catered to by (oh, Hermes in Paris – par example) any and everyone? And yet, to get her candidate elected, she has turned back to that same core group who catapulted her into uber-wealth and is asking them to choose not the experienced woman who is running for her party’s nomination, but for the inexperienced person that Lady O has somehow intuited to be the ‘right’ choice. With that backing, you may as well roll the dice with your Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote for the leader of our country.

Oprah, who has taken some pains in the past to avoid direct political ties with anyone has suddenly found her inner campaigner and put her voice (and no doubt lots of her cash) behind Barack Obama for the 2008 Presidential election. What amuses me (and hopefully some of you) is the arrogant assumption by the O’s is that we will all follow her lead and blindly vote for B.O. next November. I suppose the same way we all rushed out to buy James Frey’s “life changing” book, at Oprah’s insistence. One can only hope for Obama that if he loses or is caught in a fib that he doesn’t receive the public heckling and dressing down that Frey received from the incensed Madame O, once his book’s accuracy was called into question (I am still wondering how this effects the readers, since it is a book and not real life, and thus should still prove as ‘inspirational’ as it was when it was a memoir – but anyhoooo…). In fact, when it comes to political issues, will we really be following the lead of the woman who said that she became so frustrated by the American inner-city school system that instead of trying to come up with a plan to fix our schools and better the education system in America, decided to open a school in Africa (no hating on that, it is a noble enterprise). Is that what we can expect from a candidate that she would endorse? Things are bad here, let’s go fix someone else? Is that what we want – what we need – during this time in our country’s history?

The long and short of this piece is that we have to stop listening to celebrities when it comes to what we read, what we wear, what size bra or pants we should be, and particularly who we should vote for. They don’t know more than we do. Often-times they don’t even know as much as we do…with the exception of those of you out there who are too lazy to do the leg-work, which I suppose is exactly the flaw the whole celebrity endorsement game preys upon. There is a sense of entitlement amongst celebrities which has now spread to a sense that they are entitled to tell us who to vote for. Take a little time this election. Do some research (watching CNN and Fox News does not constitute ‘research’) and put some serious thought into which candidate you vote for. Consider the issues that truly effect you and your life. Try a more proactive approach and take some of the emotional reactivity out of your decisions. Consider what is vital in a leader and who you trust to put this country and its people first. Don’t let yourself be told who to vote for by someone who has no stake or interest in what effects your life. Whatever you choose, make it a vote you can stand behind and don’t leave yourself wondering next time we have a crisis and need a real leader, how we ended up in a million little pieces.

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Originally published December 2007
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